By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon Public Schools’ students will begin the 2020-21 school year on Monday, Aug. 24 with online learning – and they won’t return to classrooms until at least October.
Due to COVID-19 health concerns, YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth has announced the district will implement its all-online Continuous Learning Plan for students in all grade levels.
This is the “best solution” in lieu of being in the traditional classroom setting, he said this week.
The Continuous Learning Plan will be reevaluated at October’s YPS Board of Education meeting to determine if it should be extended or whether students can return safety to school.
Continuous learning is an “online setting using our teachers, teaching from their classrooms, teaching our curriculum and our standards on our timeline, in an online setting,” Simeroth explained.
“It is that personnel touch from our teachers to your students.”
Every student in the Yukon school district will have access to a technology device if they need one for online instruction.
The YPS superintendent touted the benefits of continuous learning classes, which are taught by the district’s teachers.
“We think that is always the best instructional practice,” Simeroth said. “Next to being in the classroom, having that teacher on your screen five days a week is optimal.”
Teachers meet with students online daily and there’s opportunities for remediation.
“Since it is our teachers, our curriculum and our staff doing this, when we do come back to traditional (school), we’ll be able to pick up with no loss of time,” Simeroth said.
“The continuity of learning that we’re going to be able to provide through our Continuous Learning Plan these first few weeks is fundamental to catching kids up.”
During the week of Aug. 10, YPS teachers will reach out to student families as the district prepares to launch online Aug. 24.
Schedules will be released Aug. 13 for YPS continuous learning students. Meet-the-teacher and technology device deployments are planned for the week of Aug. 17.
There will be “face-to-face” introduction time for elementary teachers and PreK-6 students before the start of the new school year.
“Seventh through 12th is just going to be a drive-through pick-up because we feel that they know how to get on the devices and pretty much know the teachers in the building,” Simeroth said.
YPS students in the Continuous Learning Plan are separate from students enrolled in the Yukon Virtual School, a semester-long option that starts Aug. 26. The education of Yukon Virtual School students will be self-paced with instruction provided by the Florida Virtual (K-5th grades) and Edgenuity (6-12th grades) software programs.
HERE IS THE PLAN
Here are procedures for YPS students enrolled in the Continuous Learning Plan to start the 2020-21 school year:
PK-1st grade: Primary instructions will be in two 90-minute blocks and teachers are encouraged to teach in 20-30-minute blocks with transitions/breaks accordingly. These blocks of instruction will be focused on math, reading, social studies and science with a heavy emphasis on the basics of reading and math. The first block begins at 8:30 a.m. and the second block begins at 1 p.m. Dividing students into two blocks allows for smaller classes online. It will also provide an opportunity for parents to work a schedule where they could support our youngest learners.
2nd-3rd grade: Primary instruction will be one 150-minute block that includes time for specials. This instructional block begins at 8:30 a.m. and teachers are encouraged to teach in 20-30-minute blocks with transitions/breaks in between “teaching sessions.” Instruction will be focused on math, reading, social studies and science with a heavy emphasis on the basics of reading and math.
4th-6th grade: Primary instruction will be one 150-minute block that includes time for specials. This instructional block begins at 8:30 a.m. and teachers are encouraged to teach in 20-30-minute blocks with transitions/breaks in between “teaching sessions.”
7th-8th grade: Primary instruction will be one 210-minute block that includes time for electives. This instructional block begins at 9:30 a.m. Students and teachers will follow the daily schedule with classes being 25 minutes with a 5-minute break between classes.
9th-12th grade: Primary instruction will be one 210-minute block that includes time for electives. This instructional block begins at 10 a.m. Students and teachers will follow the daily schedule with classes being 25 minutes with a 5-minute break between classes.
YPS officials will monitor the situation through September before deciding whether to extend the Continuing Learning Plan.
“At the October board meeting, we’ll have a recommendation on how to continue – whether we come back full tilt or whether we continue down this road,” Simeroth explained.
YPS Board President Suzanne Cannon thanked community members – specifically YPS stakeholders, parents and grandparents – for their support and positive feedback during this challenging time.
“I want to ask you to continue to be flexible,” Cannon said. “Let’s all work together to do the right thing for our students, our faculty, our support staff, and all of their families.
“This is just a bad situation and a hard time. I’m really, really grateful to everybody who’s been positive, supportive, flexible, and working together with us.”
For more details, visit the YPS “Return to Learn” site on the district’s homepage at http://www.yukonps.com
The site features a “Frequently Asked Questions” segment that’s continually updated to provide detailed answers to patrons’ various and sundry queries.