School board set to grapple with missing students, progress on distance learning at Wednesday meeting
Roaring Fork Schools officials continue to work to try to reach about 1% to 2% of district students and their families who have fallen off the radar since the switch to online learning last month prompted by the coronavirus emergency.
The good news is that, what had been about 200 students out of about 5,600 across the district who initially could not be reached, was down to 73 as of late last week, schools Superintendent Rob Stein said.
“That’s about three to five from each school,” he said in reference to schools serving the three district communities of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
“When we can’t reach them or the family, we go to sibling or a friend group (to try to make that contact),” Stein said. “Mostly, we’re just trying to determine if they are OK, what they might need in the way of support, and if they’re still with us.”
It is possible some of those families have moved because of the economic uncertainty brought on by job losses and the massive closing of businesses and the resort industry due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Stein acknowledged.
Still, the district wants to make sure students aren’t lost in the shuffle, especially when it comes to determining what kind of remediation may be needed to bring students up to speed for next school year.
The general level of engagement by students during this awkward time of virtual learning is also a concern for parents, district officials and school board members alike.
The school board on Wednesday evening is scheduled to hear the latest from district staff on how distance learning is going for students and teachers. The regular meetings are being conducted via video conference.
On the agenda will be reports from district staff on that and other challenges students and families are facing due to the public health crisis that forced school closures in Colorado and halted in-person learning for the remainder of the semester.
Recently, parents were asked to complete a survey to provide feedback on the district’s distance learning plan. The results were to be be used to make any adjustments before the school year ends.
About 2,200 surveys were completed, including 795 by students, 1,134 by parents and 242 by district staff members, according to a survey results summary.
The results highlighted some bright spots, but also identified several areas for improvement related to providing more structured teacher contact with students online and more required time spent by students to complete their online lessons.
Many of the district’s Spanish-speaking parents also wanted to have more bilingual resources for them to be able to access the various digital tools, so they can provide better support for students who are learning from home, according to the results summary.
Another concern not addressed in the survey is that about 10% of the district’s high school seniors are at risk of not graduating because they haven’t yet met all of the requirements, Stein said.
“Our high school counselors, crew and academic teachers are working hard to stay on them with lots of additional contact and support to try to get them there,” Stein said. “We’re doing everything we can to help them finish up, but also starting to make plans for what do about those who don’t make it in time.”
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Courtney Hassell says she could have been completely disillusioned with schools and education, and in many ways she was, after an experience three years ago at Glenwood Springs High School.