Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 | 6:40 p.m.
When the pandemic forced Clark County School District classes to go exclusively online in mid-March, the results were chaotic for some of the system’s 320,000 students.
Nearly one-third of the students didn’t participate — the product of no device or internet to get online, or children simply losing interest because there were no penalties for not participating.
A new school year begins Aug. 24, and district officials insist remote learning this time around will be a different experience for families.
“We know we can’t repeat (last spring). We are working to make sure it is the very best it can be,” said Brenda Larsen-Mitchell, the district’s deputy superintendent.
CCSD officials on Thursday unveiled the remote learning schedule for the fall, which dictates the amount of time students will be required to be engaged in the online setting and plans for when a student isn’t meeting those requirements.
When a student fails to participate for one day, it will trigger communication from the school, Larsen-Mitchell said. First, the student’s school will reach virtually out for a wellness check. As a last resort, CCSD attendance officers would physical perform a wellness check at the student’s home.
Additionally, each school will have a team established to strictly focus on the well-being of students. Their emphasis could be on attendance or if a child seems distraught during online lessons.
“We have a plan to address the emotional needs of the student,” Larsen-Mitchell said.
In keeping with that theme, the school day will begin with morning announcements “to promote the connection with the schools and family,” she said.
The schedule will vary depending on school level.
For students in grades 3-5, for example, online learning will be 90-120 minutes daily with reading at 9 a.m. for 30 minutes followed by a 20- to 30-minute block of language arts starting at 10:30 a.m., math at noon and science at 1 p.m. The schedule closes with 30 minutes of virtual offices hours for teachers. It also includes breaks for time away from the device or small, group sessions.
High schools will continue to operate on their traditional schedule of at least six classes with yearlong credits. But the middle school schedule will be broken into four yearlong classes condensed into one semester.
“They are managing four classes. That makes it more manageable (for the students),” Larsen-Mitchell said of the middle school schedule, which is for grades 6-8.
Larsen-Mitchell said the feedback from families has been mixed. Some are excited about the opportunity of distance education, others have endless questions of how it’s going to look and feel. Those questions will partially be answered Aug. 24.
“We are writing a new chapter with how we educate our students,” said Karla Loria, the district’s chief academic officer.