YPS invests $1M for student virtual devices

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By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

The Yukon school district has invested more than $1 million to make sure all students will have a technology device that allows them to participate in virtual learning.

These funds – totaling $1,016,249.56 – came from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding Yukon Public Schools has received. This is combination of the district’s allocation of $566,249.56 and a $450,000 CARES Incentive Grant.

The CARES Act is designed to stimulate the U.S. economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
YPS is using the funds to purchase technology devices and content management systems for students enrolled in the Yukon Virtual School.

“Every student pre-K through 12 will have a device if we have to go virtual 100% of the time,” YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth reported. “We are prepared for that, those (devices) have already been ordered and will be coming in in droves here very soon.”

The new virtual devices will be all ready to distribute to Yukon school sites once they arrive.
Traditional school closed in mid-March due to the pandemic and classes did not resume for the rest of the 2019-20 school year, which officially ended May 8.

Yukon and other school districts across Oklahoma are preparing for the 2020-21 school year, which will include on-line (virtual) and traditional (in-school) instruction or a combination (blended).

YPS also has spent funds to improve on-line connectively for students without Internet access. About 10-12 “bus spots” will be taken to higher-need areas to increase the ability to connect to the Internet.

“We’ve made a large investment in that,” Simeroth said at the July 7th YPS Board of Education meeting. “We are really working hard to make sure we have connectively as widespread as we can get it.

“We have a lot of people in our district that have connection and have the ability to use their phones as ‘hot spots’ as well.”

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YPS: RETURN TO LEARN

The Yukon school district recently launched an online “Return to Learn” site on the YPS homepage.

The plan is the result of “dedicated research, scenario analysis and feedback” from YPS families, staff and community members, YPS officials wrote in a message Monday to district patrons:

“Although we are presenting our current plan, we remain open to adopting best practices as they continue to be revealed.”

Student learning options for the 2020-21 school year are traditional and virtual, with high school students having the option of “blending” learning to accommodate their schedules.

TRADITIONAL: Classes will be taught in-person by a YPS teacher with modified distancing and safety practices. YPS sites are set to open Aug. 20 for students in the traditional setting.

VIRTUAL: Self-paced online learning regularly monitored by a virtual teacher, counselor and administrator with curriculum provided by Engenuity/Florida Virtual. Students enrolled in the virtual classroom setting will no longer be assigned to their home school. Virtual school schedules will be provided by Aug. 21 and class will begin Aug. 26. Upon return to the traditional classroom setting, school site and/or elective choices may be limited.

BLENDED: Option for high school students only who need a combination of in-person and online education. Application required.

In the event of a school shutdown, the district will implement a newly developed “continuous” learning plan to ensure education continues. Daily instruction will be provided online by YPS teachers.

For more information, visit http://www.yukonps.com/district/return

TELE-WORK POLICY

The YPS Board of Education at its July meeting approved a new telecommuting policy and procedure to allow district employees to “work at home, on the road or in a satellite location” for all or part of their workweek.

“Yukon Public Schools considers telecommuting to be a viable, flexible work option when both the employee and the job are suited to such an arrangement,” according to the new board policy.

YPS personnel who want to tele-work must have been employed with the district at least 12 months and have a satisfactory performance record.

The employee must establish an appropriate work environment in their home free from dependent care responsibilities during agreed-upon work hours, according to the policy:
“Decreases in productivity or behaviors that detract from Yukon Public Schools may result in the immediate loss of teleworking status and/or may result in disciplinary action.”

The policy indicates that telecommuting may be informal – such as working from home for a short-term projector on the road during business travel. Or it can be with a formal, set schedule of working away from the office.

YPS officials may visit a telework site to ensure it is conducive to a “safe and productive work environment,” according to the policy.