Stillwater Public Schools has announced plans for a distance learning program to continue instruction during the extended closure of school buildings. District administration, school principals, and teachers have been connecting remotely over the past two weeks to create expectations, activities, and methods of delivery to students.
Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Cathy Walker presented the distance learning plan at a special virtual meeting of the Stillwater Board of Education on Thursday, April 2. Following the board’s update, Superintendent Marc Moore announced the plan to parents through an email the following day, saying, “Our staff members have been intentional in implementing a distance learning program for all students while being sensitive to their emotional needs.”
The district’s plan was created to be accommodating of the unique stressors students and families are experiencing during the ongoing pandemic crisis. Student activities can be completed as their schedule allows, with recommended time spent daily varying from 45 minutes for the youngest students to three hours for high schoolers.
Grade-level assignments and activities will be posted weekly for students to access each Monday morning on a new SPS distance learning website, accessible at StillwaterSchools.com. Assignments and resources will be mailed to those without access to technology.
Learning activities for Pre-K through eighth grade students are able to be completed without the use of technology, but many assignments for ninth through twelfth grade will require access to a computer. Students that do not have a device have been contacted to check out a Chromebook from the district, and SPS will work with students that do not have Internet access, if requested, to ensure no loss of learning and equal opportunity.
Teachers will communicate weekly with students via phone, web conferencing, and email to ensure students are participating, provide assistance, and offer additional enrichment activities.
“We want to ensure that this global pandemic does not negatively impact students’ grades,” says Assistant Superintendent Walker. Pre-K through fifth grade students will receive a grade of “P” for participating in distance learning assignments, but sixth through twelfth grade students will need a letter grade for transcripts and to participate in extracurricular activities. “These students’ letter grades will be based on their third quarter grade, and they will have the opportunity to raise that grade through participation in distance learning activities,” explains Walker.
Stillwater High School students that have begun a new course for the fourth quarter will receive letter grades for their distance learning assignments. More information about grades at each level can be found on the district’s distance learning website.
Also announced at the Board meeting was an adjustment to the school calendar. The last day of school will now be May 15, allowing teachers additional time after students complete lessons to accommodate any needs that may need to be addressed.
Superintendent Moore is confident in the plan and Stillwater Public Schools ability to facilitate ongoing learning during this pandemic. “We are a strong school system based in an outstanding community,” says Moore. “I have faith in both the district and Stillwater’s ability to manage through this unique time in history.”