Whether they enroll for a hybrid education plan that will eventually bring them back to their school buildings or opt for the district’s new at-home education model, the roughly 2,500 students in the Anacortes School District will gear up for learning on Sept. 14.
Teachers are at work this week, receiving training and setting up their classrooms for a fully remote start to the year.
The School District staff has worked for the last few months to put together a continuous learning plan to present to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The School Board officially approved the plan Aug. 27.
“This team is pretty incredible,” new district Superintendent Justin Irish said of his staff. “I appreciate the community’s grace and flexibility. We are going to get through this.”
The plan outlines each element of safety in the school year, including identifying a public health representative and making sure that if students come back, they can stay 6 feet apart.
It also addresses technology for keeping students connected. Each student will receive a device for online schoolwork, and the district will pass out hotspots, create a connection map and provide ways for those students without internet access to get connected. Many students will receive materials like whiteboards and markers to be used in their at-home education.
The district’s hybrid model will start remotely but eventually bring students back to an in-person setting in shifts. The ASD@Home program is a year-round homeschool model where students will still have access to Anacortes School District teachers and resources but instead of attending regular class times will have more flexibility in schedule.
As of last week, 480 students have registered for the ASD@Home program, which is being led by Principal Ryan Pike.
“This is definitely an indication of what our community wants,” Irish said.
Enrollment is not yet final, he said.
Right now, roughly 300 fewer students have registered for one of the two programs than normally attend school in the district. Some of those could be from families withdrawing, but parents were told if they don’t sign up for one of the two options they will automatically default to the hybrid model.
Students will special needs, or roughly 2% of student, will return to the school buildings when school starts so they can have access to the resources they need, Director of Inclusive Services Shannon Gilbert said at the board meeting. Those students will be on campus for two half-days a week and will be able to stay apart. The district will be able to iron out any details they need to fix before more and more students come back to the school buildings as the year goes on, she said.
While the continuous learning plan is approved, many changes are still being put in place at a district level.
The district received new guidance last week about what attendance should look like for students within the district, as mandated by the state. Those regulations are being put in place now and the district is figuring out how it will work practically here, Irish said.
The district set last week which teachers would be within this model and which would remain as part of the hybrid education model. Teachers in the other model, who will lead set class times for students, in many cases were shifted around at the district.
Many teachers are teaching new grades or taking on courses they’ve never taught, district Director of Teaching and Learning Angie Miller said at the board meeting last week. So they are adjusting beyond just leading a class through a computer.
School periods will also look different this year, even for the hybrid model.
The middle and high schools will now have a block schedule, with more time for each class. That facilitates more learning time during remote time but also means students will move around less during the average day once they are back in school buildings, Miller said.
Students will attend each subject for two extended block periods a week. Wednesdays will not have any set class time and instead be flex time for students to work with teachers for extra help, access resources or spend time on independent work.
The continuous learning plan is available at asd103.org.