City's distance learning plan works for Bachus, Netcoh

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In response to the coronavirus outbreak and instructions put in place by Gov. Gina Raimondo, the Warwick School Department crafted a plan to educate students while no one is permitted to gather in large groups.

Last week, the school department finalized their distance-learning instructional plans after working for under two weeks.

The virtual instructional day plan needed to be run by stakeholders and to be approved by the school committee and the teachers union. The plan states that staff, administration, parents and guardians as well as students have been notified of these plans and procedures. Additionally, School Committee Chairwoman Karen Bachus and Teachers Union President Darlene Netcoh have both approved the plan.

For K-5 classrooms, the plan says teachers will need planning time to gather resources for online classes. They are asked to communicate with colleagues to create plans and can use Google Meetings as a way to do so. As for teaching the lessons, the district asked for schoolwork to be relevant to the Common Core. Also included in the plan is a 48-hour window for students to submit all work for each day, as the school recognizes student schedules may not be consistent with face-to-face teaching. Teachers are also encouraged to hold office hours through email or phone calls to communicate with parents and students, and they are asked to submit a weekly report to parents.

“Distance learning is a new concept in terms of solely… the only means of education,” Superintendent Philip Thornton said. “Certainly we have to be mindful of that.”

For secondary education, teachers, support professionals and students are asked to bring home all materials. Teachers are expected to be using Google Classroom for distance learning and hold regular virtual office hours for students or parents to contact them. 

The plan states that all teachers need a Google Classroom presence and should post an assignment at least two times a week. Despite changes to the location of where these classes are held, teachers are asked to not have their assigned work exceed what they would normally give it in the classroom. The plan also says that there is not yet a fixed daily schedule for students and teachers. 

For students in secondary education without Internet access, they are asked to contact teachers for physical copies of instructional materials that can be sent to them. The school is also suggesting students read a book at their individual reading level.

The administration also reminded students that teachers will respond to emails within 24 hours during the school week, but are not on call every hour of every day. 

“I think we have to be flexible, we have to be creative and we have to work together as a team to keep moving forward and making it better,” Thornton said.

Thornton added that the plan is set in place for two weeks, in accordance with what the governor has instructed for public schools.

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