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  Boardman Local Schools Working To Finalize Plans For Aug. 31 Reopening Of System  
  In-Class And Remote Learning Options Under Consideration:   July 9, 2020 Edition  
     BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
      associate editor
      Boardman Local Schools are planning to open for the 2020-21 year on Aug. 31, apparently with options for attending classes in school buildings, or offering options for remote learning.
      Supt. Tim Saxton said plans that will be released in July will have “flexibility” in order to accommodate parents who don’t want to send their kids to school.
      “We want to respect that....We want to keep kids in the [Boardman Local School System],” the superintendent said.
      Saxton said the school system doesn’t have all the answers, “but we are working a lot in the background. Our foundational plan is we expect kids to return to school.”
      Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced ‘new guidance’ for resuming school in the fall.
      “We know that each school system, and perhaps each school building, will likely look different in the fall. We also know that Ohio has a long history of local control and that school administrators and teachers know their schools best,” said DeWine. “Working together and consulting with educators and other health officials, we have developed a set of guidelines, backed by science, that each school should follow when developing their reopening plans.”
      A newly-issued guidance report prepared by the Ohio Department of Education advises schools to vigilantly assess symptoms, wash and sanitize hands to prevent spread, thoroughly clean and sanitize the school environment to limit spread on shared surfaces, practice social distancing, and implement a face coverings policy.
      “Just as we have done in the business sector with employees, we are requiring school staff to wear face coverings to reduce the spread of the virus, unless it is unsafe or when doing so could significantly interfere with the learning process.
      “When face coverings aren’t practical, face shields may be considered,” said DeWine. “We strongly recommend that students in third grade and up wear face coverings as well.”
      More details on the new school guidance will soon be available on coronavirus.ohio.gov.
      To assist schools in their efforts to implement the guidance, the Ohio Department of Education has created a lengthy (and laborious) document titled, The Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and Districts, that is designed to help teachers, principals, and administrators with solutions to safety challenges.
      Based on advice from school leaders and educators, the planning guide addresses considerations to ensure the health and safety of students, educators and staff once school buildings reopen. This includes measures for assessing student health, practicing physical distancing, sanitizing surfaces, exercising good hygiene, wearing masks and other components relevant to a student’s daily journey—from stepping on the school bus, to learning in the classroom and eating in the cafeteria. The planning guide also will discuss caring— considerations for ensuring equity, social-emotional learning and behavioral health; teaching—approaches for professional development and effective remote learning; and learning—ideas for assessing students’ learning needs and meeting them where they are.
      The planning guide provides “Operating Assumptions” for local school districts.
      The assumptions say “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ohio Department of Health indicate that COVID-19 will be present at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.
      “Also, as has been the experience over the past several months, conditions can change rapidly. District and school planning will need to contemplate various contingencies.
      “As a result, this planning guide operates
      under the following assumptions:”
       • Ohio’s education system must be nimble, flexible and responsive to ensure the health and safety of all students and adults.
       • Schools will need to have the capacity to operate in various modes at different times and, sometimes, with minimum advance notice.
       • When schools are operating with students in the building, they will need to adhere to health and safety guidelines set forth by the Ohio Department of Health and local health departments. Guidelines may change as circumstances change, which most likely should lead to course corrections throughout the year.
       • The traditional school experience as it was known prior to the onset of the pandemic will be different, as will many of the day-to-day practices of schools.
      The ‘plan’ also addresses Expectations for Achievement---
      “As schools consider plans to return for the 2020-2021 school year, educational considerations should be made to ensure each student is challenged, prepared and empowered for his or her future by way of an excellent pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education. This means the commitment to Ohio’s Learning Standards and the four learning domains described in Ohio’s strategic plan for education must continue to be strong. (Note: The four learning domains are listed at the end of this article).
      “These domains include foundational knowledge and skills, well-rounded content, leadership and reasoning skills and social emotional learning.
      “These expectations have not changed because of the pandemic---rather, schools should renew their commitments to upholding the four equal learning domains even though the learning environment may look different,” says the plan.
      The ‘Plan’ Addresses Equity in Education
      The following is excerpted from the The Reset and Restart Education Planning Guide for Ohio Schools and District.
      Importance of Equity: Each Child, Our Future identifies equity as Ohio’s greatest education challenge.
      Equity in education means each child has access to relevant and challenging academic experiences and educational resources necessary for success across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background and/or income.
      COVID-19 did not create equity challenges in education. Those challenges have been recognized in education for some time, yet the pandemic is revealing and exacerbating deeply rooted social and educational inequities. Further, the global crisis highlights the equity connections across education and other social systems, such as health care, housing and the workforce.
      As educators, communities and policymakers rally together in a tremendous response to the pandemic, equity must remain at the forefront of Ohio’s short and long-term responses and supports.
      The process of reopening schools and defining what the future of education will look like is a perfect opportunity to address equity issues head-on. At every step of the planning process, proposed strategies, approaches and actions should be viewed through an equity lens, asking the question, “How does each element of our plan impact equitable access to a quality education and equitable achievement for those who have historically been underserved?”
      The Boardman Local School District’s Director of Instruction, Jared Cardillo, said last week that the system has to be prepared “to provide instruction to our students in different ways. We are working on that.”
      This spring, the local school completed a “Remote Learning Parent Survey,” to which there were 446 respondents. Only some 71 per cent of the respondents said they were satisfied the ‘remote learning’ provided to students after the schools shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      According to Edward Adams, STEAM technology coordinator for Boardman Local Schools, the survey showed that parents want to see teachers ‘more’ during virtual learning sessions, and there is a need for district-wide consistency.
      “Some parents see a disparity in school buildings,” Adams said, while adding survey respondents favored more “streamlined communication.”
      According to the survey conducted by Boardman Local Schools, there were concerns expressed with the quality of instruction provided during the spring shutdown.
      “Many respondents have classified the work their children received as ‘busy work.’ There is great concern that should remote learning continue students are less likely to achieve the desired intellectual milestones,” says the local system’s survey.
      “Our family is making due with remote learning experience, but our children would be better served in a classroom. I would strongly encourage the school board to return to in-class instruction,” one parent said in response to the Boardman Local School survey.
      The Four Learning Domains
      These were developed by the Ohio Dept of Education. Below is their summary....
      The four equal learning domains are the four areas in which the Ohio Department of Education wants each Ohio student to develop knowledge and skills for success beyond high school.
      Foundational Skills and Knowledge
      For our students to be successful in a rapidly changing economy, we must equip them with foundational knowledge and skills that support lifelong learning. Each child must know how to read and write critically (literacy), work with numbers (numeracy) and use technology to take the best advantage of future learning experiences.
      Well-Rounded Content
      Beyond foundational literacy, numeracy and technology skills, students need exposure to a broad range of subjects and disciplines to help them pinpoint their passions and become lifelong learners. These include social studies, science, world languages, arts, health, physical education and career-technical education fields, among others.
      Leadership and Reasoning Skills
      Success depends on more than academic knowledge. Students must be able to show leadership skills. Among other things, these include learning from mistakes and improving for the future, listening to others and working to achieve a common goal, and giving and receiving feedback. Success through reasoning skills means students know how to draw on many disciplines to synthesize information, develop creative solutions and generate new ideas. These reasoning skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, design and computational thinking, information evaluation and data analytics.
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Research shows that being part of a community improves life satisfaction and health. Doing this successfully means understanding the importance of social interaction and personal feelings. Social-emotional learning includes skills like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, collaboration, empathy, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Social-emotional learning gives children the tools to become resilient and persistent in life.
     
 
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