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Edmonds School District working on graduation, 'continuous learning' plans

 

Last updated 4/16/2020 at 10:42am

School's out for the year, and high school seniors and their parents are no doubt wondering about a graduation ceremony.

We don't have any news for you on that at the moment, but Edmonds School District spokeswoman Harmony Weinberg said that is one of many decisions discussed this week, with updates possible after its normal board meeting April 21.

"We are examining options for our seniors to finish strong and have the best launch possible to their college and career pursuits," said Superintendent Kristine McDuffy.

"We will be talking with students, families, and staff in the near future about ways to honor this incredible Class of 2020."

In the meantime, there's a new coronavirus-related phrase added to the lexicon: "continuous learning."

"We have put in place a task force made up of incredible educators who are working diligently on this next phase of learning," said McDuffy.

That group will determine the district's approach to many of the questions out there. In addition to what happens with graduation, the group is assessing grading and student progress.

"The task force will ground themselves in both federal and state guidance and also look to see what we can learn from educators around the state and country," said McDuffy. "We know many in our community are wanting answers now, but we ask for your patience as we make thoughtful decisions in the best interest of all our students."

As part of continuous learning, starting Monday, April 13, teachers began checking in with their students over the phone. Teachers have Google Voice phone numbers, so they may show up as unfamiliar numbers and not an area code students would recognize.

The district asked families to answer the phone, as a teacher could be on the other end.

Monday also began planning for a new phase of continuous learning outside of the classroom.

"Teachers are just overwhelmingly sad and disappointed that they won't be going back to school this year," said Andi Nofziger-Meadows, president of the Edmonds Education Association.

"Teachers want to be with their classes. And I think kids want to be in school with their classes and their teachers and friends. And so we're just figuring out how to move forward, and to kids' minds active and engaged in learning."

Nofziger-Meadows said that teachers are still providing assignments for students, meeting as classes via Zoom and other online services. Others are working more independently.

"So much depends on what students have internet access," she said. "We're trying to be very sensitive to the fact that not all our students are successful on online platforms or have access to online platforms. And we're trying to come up with options for offline for learning as well, and how to get those options to students."

The school has distributed hundreds of Chromebook laptops to K-6 students, while also working with internet providers to free Wi-Fi hotspots to students without internet access.

It was on April 6 that Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced the extension of school closures for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

The governor's proclamation prohibited in-person instruction through June 19, with exceptions for students with disabilities and English language learners for whom distance learning would present challenges.

Facilities remain accessible for limited use, including providing child care and packing take-home meals for students' families to pick up. All activities must follow Department of Health social distancing guidelines.

"This closure is guided by science and is our greatest opportunity to keep our kids, educators, and communities safe," Inslee said at a news conference.

"If there is any opportunity to bring students back for a few days, including graduation ceremonies for our seniors, we will continue to explore that option. That opportunity will be guided by our collective behavior and the success we can achieve with the choices we make today."

Inslee said students' grades will not suffer as a result of the closure and encouraged them to take advantage of the learning opportunities that remain.

The governor also asked teachers and administrators to work together on the best path forward for the remainder of the school year.

 

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