Jessica Cejnar / Monday, May 18 @ 5:01 p.m.
Parent Survey Asks What Learning Format Works Best For Their Kids; DNUSD Webinar to Focus On State Budget
Education officials are asking parents for guidance as they prepare for a 2020-21 school year that’ll likely include social distancing measures due to COVID-19.
Del Norte Unified School District on Monday deployed a parent survey presenting them with four potential learning models and asking them which one their child functions best in. Though the current distance learning format has been successful, DNUSD Superintendent Jeff Harris called it crisis learning and said a format with online instruction could be different.
“It’s similar in that it takes place away from the school campus,” Harris told parents in a video update Monday. “But it is very different in terms of schedule, in terms of how work is turned in, in terms of how instruction is provided. We will be planning for that because what we have heard is next year if COVID-19 cases do emerge — if there’s still not a vaccine — we may still be placed in a position of the state public health department closing schools down much as they did this year.”
The four models parents are asked to weigh in on include a full distance learning format; instruction of small student groups of no more than 10 with online learning included; larger groups also incorporating online instruction; and every child back in a classroom with a teacher with protective gear, Harris told parents.
“We want to have our students present and learning, but how does your child learn best?” Harris asked. “We need to know. The survey is not which of these models do you want to put your child in. These models will be models schools may go into and out of throughout the year.”
Though it remains to be seen if schools will open next fall, the parent survey will help the DNUSD figure out where to allocate resources and what kind of training their teachers need, said Rae Fearing, director of education technology.
The district’s survey has already had about 625 responses, Fearing told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Monday. The survey will be available through the week, she said.
This survey won’t be the last parents will be asked to participate in as DNUSD determines what instruction will look like next year. According to Fearing, the district has partnered with BrightBytes and the International Society for Technology Education to determine the device students are using to access their lessons.
Future surveys may also ask parents about their students’ ability to access the Internet, including what time of day do they participate in online learning.
“We can use that data to then shape our plans for the fall,” Fearing said, adding that it was difficult for teachers and students to be plunged into distance learning so unexpectedly. “Everybody’s trying to pre-plan as much as possible and train teachers as much as possible for teaching in the fall so kids feel connected.”
In addition to determining the best way to teach students next fall, DNUSD is bracing for the possibility of having to make budget cuts. In his revised budget released last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom estimated that funding for public education would decline by $19 billion, or about 23 percent from 2019.
A decline in average daily attendance and per-capita income numbers would cause the Proposition 98 guarantee — the voter-approved guaranteed minimum funding level for K-12 schools and community colleges — to stay at a depressed level.
On Monday, Harris said DNUSD will hold a webinar Wednesday on the upcoming budget. The webinar will include input from Michael Fine, chief executive officer for the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team of the State of California; Matt Phillips, of School Services of California; and Bill McGuire, who, Harris said, has helped districts address budget shortfalls.
The webinar will look at the state budget and how it will impact DNUSD, Harris said.