APS Awaiting Decision for Final Weeks of 2020

APS Awaiting Decision for Final Weeks of 2020
Posted on 10/14/2020
APS logoThe Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education has more challenging decisions to make in the coming weeks, as it now considers a plan to return students to the classroom. Chief Academic Officer Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D., and Akron Education Association (AEA) President Pat Shipe presented a detailed proposal at last evening’s meeting (10/12/20) that would bring students back in mid-November with a mix of in-person and online learning. The plan includes six feet of social distancing, and everyone in each building will have to wear masks.

Students in every grade would have the option to continue learning online.

“Our proposal,” said McWilliams-Woods in addressing the board, “would send students in kindergarten through eighth grade back to school two days a week. High school students would learn from home every day until about 1 p.m.”

McWilliams-Woods added that high schoolers could be brought back to buildings in groups through their College & Career Academies or for other academic intervention and support weekdays from 1 until 3 p.m.

A Most Difficult Decision
McWilliams-Woods, Shipe and several board members have used the term “gut wrenching” to describe the decisions driven by the concerns over COVID19.

“While our proposal allows for in-class learning,” said McWilliams-Woods, “it also reduces the number of hours of teacher-led instruction.” The proposal that sends students back to class two days each week allows only for self-directed remote instruction when those same students are not in the classroom.

Currently, remote learning at APS is teacher-led. Students who will ultimately choose to remain with full-time remote learning will continue to have teacher instruction. In the hybrid model, students would be assigned work to complete on those days they are at home, which could be in an online format, a paper worksheet or a hands-on project.

On Fridays, teachers would conduct check-ins with students and families.

Among the most pressing concerns is for those students with the most severe challenges. Akron Public Schools is working on a plan that would bring those students back to school possibly earlier than the end of the first quarter through an optional after-school program.

Family Input
Roughly 15,000 families have responded to a questionnaire from APS and have indicated -- in a two-thirds majority -- they want their child to be in a hybrid model for learning. Nearly two-thirds indicated they would send their children back to on-site learning, full time.

Pat Shipe said she will be sending out her own questionnaire that will go to teachers to gage their feelings on the immediate future of learning at APS.
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