School’s New E-Learning Deemed Successful ‘Delivering Education’

Lake City Community School’s inaugural week for distance learning went exceptionally well, according to School Superintendent Rebecca Hall, with almost perfect attendance. Superintendent Hall says that at week’s end last Friday, March 27, school staff met in virtual session and concluded that for both elementary students and their older classmates in middle school and high school, teachers were feeling “more confident about how to deliver E–Learning to all students in the school.” On top of the school’s traditional Spring Break, which concluded last Monday, March 23, Lake City students and staff are delving into the delights and challenges of distance learning via the internet and personal computers during a prolonged campus closure at the local school which will continue through at least Friday, April 17, as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. Following a fast-paced transition to computer learning from their homes, Lake City students last Wednesday, March 25, began a highly individualized E-Learning curriculum with the school’s Chrome Books and iPads which, together with the students’ textbooks and other instructional materials, were sent home with each student as they left for spring break. For the older middle school and high school students, according to Superintendent Hall, last week’s start of E-Learning represented a “picking up where they left off.” The curriculum for elementary students is still evolving and, in addition to online instruction from their teachers, will also incorporate project-based learning similar in concept to each spring’s school Project Fair, enlisting the talents of both the student and their parents working in tandem on specific projects. For the younger students, Hall says E-Learning takes into account that it is not beneficial for students to be tied to their computers for prolonged hours. “It’s not good for students to be online all day.” While urging parents to work closely with the students in terms of partnerships, the school is also working not to overwhelm the parents with added responsibilities, according to Hall. The school’s two main priorities with the newly-instituted E-Learning, she says, is to be sure to maintain the human connection — and a sense of hope — as much as possible, and secondly, the priority is “delivering education.” That is why the school is also incorporating social/emotional learning, physical education and art into their plan for all students. “Our students’ well-being is a priority for our District,” says Hall. As an example of the academic curriculum, Kindergarten and First Grade teacher Lily Virden is teaching via pre-recorded video and then scheduling individual online time with each student to answer questions. Staff at Lake City school for all student levels are teaching students through a variety of live online instruction and prerecorded lessons which Hall terms a “flipped classroom”. In this flipped scenario, students watch the lesson and then join their fellow classmates and teacher in an online discussion on what they just learned. LCCS middle school and high school math teacher Amanda Phillimore is recording her lessons and then, during a 30-minute pre-arranged timeslot, checks in with her students to answer questions. Other teachers such as English instructor Sarah Kem, are teaching classes live online for 30 minutes, each student then receiving an assignment. All teachers (K-12) have office hours for students to contact them individually if they have any questions about their classes. Students are utilizing this time with teachers more and more. The E-Learning concept, according to Hall, is based on paring down to the essential standards which are required in order to advance the student to the next grade level at the end of the school year. Although the school remains closed as a precaution against the coronavirus through April 17, the situation is continually evolving and is being monitored on a daily basis. Superintendent Hall says the school is in close contact with Silver Thread Public Health’s Tara Hardy each day and also is receiving information from Colorado Dept. of Education and the office of Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Governor Polis continues to stress the potential longevity of the present crisis and how long it may take to wrap up. One potential repeatedly cited by the Governor is the fact it is “high unlikely” that students will return to the classroom this school year. Governor Polis reiterated those sentiments at a press briefing on Monday this week, stating that school districts throughout the state should be prepared for closures extending through the end of the present school year and noting that schools should consider canceling public commencement exercises for this year’s graduating classes. Looking ahead to the end of the 2019-20 school year, Hall says school administration is already taking into account what a prolonged school closure will mean to Lake City’s three high school seniors who are scheduled to graduate at the end of the present school year. All three students are working with their teachers and school administration to ensure they have the necessary credits to receive their diplomas at the end of the school year. To celebrate the end of their inaugural E-Learning week last Friday, Superintendent Hall and school staff Shawn Arthur, Emily Motsinger, and Jennifer Rhinehart arranged with students and parents starting at 11:30 a.m. for a “Grab & Go” sack lunch distribution at the school. Staggered pick up times were established, social distancing was practiced, and gloves were worn as brown sack lunches prepared by Get Some Groceries were distributed. The District is providing the sack lunches free of charge to all students who sign up for the lunch. As part of the weekly exchange, assignments were collected and new materials handed out. A total of 45 lunches were distributed during the day, a process which is also scheduled for repeat this Friday, April 3.