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Teachers create learning plan for Pratt USD 382 students

Kahrie Stegman
Stephanie Thompson videoconferences to develop a distance-learning plan for her students at USD 382 Pratt.

Because of the recent shutdown of all in-person schooling in the state of Kansas, teachers and administration will be getting creative to effectively relay the rest of their material for the school year to their students. USD 382 students won’t be walking through the school doors again for the rest of the year, but teachers returned to work on Monday, March 23 to create a Continuous Learning Plan for their students for the rest of the year.

“Continuous Learning Plan” is the official Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) term for the alternative teaching that each school district is preparing.

To maintain social distancing, teachers and other staff at every school will be meeting in small groups or ‘teams’ and through video conferencing.

On Monday, each building’s leadership will meet to come up with an overall plan for the whole district. Those plans will be taken back to each school building and smaller teams will create their plans based off of the district-wide plan.

For most grades under high school, on Tuesday, teachers will meet with other teachers of the same grade to form their teams. Pratt High teachers will meet in teams not necessarily by grade level, since most classes have a mix of grade levels.

“At PHS, those teams will be the established Professional Learning Communities since students are spread across grade levels with their classes,” Pratt USD 382 Superintendent Tony Helfrich said.

After teams meet, the administration team will get back together to see where they need to develop consensus on any issues as they move forwards.

To teach their material, teachers will be encouraged to send video content for students in the form of a message, tutorial, or a traditional lecture/demonstration.

“We want to create opportunities for students and teachers to dialogue over video conferencing technology for classroom discussions/meetings.”

Some learning will be similar to before, such as reading and writing assignments. Students will also still do projects, adapted to best fit each grade level’s needs.

For elective classes such as band and woodworking where videos won’t necessarily work, teachers will have to use other methods of teaching.

“If we are allowed to have groups under 10 in a classroom, which is the current Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) standard, then we can devise a schedule and groupings to still work on those projects,” Helfrich said. “If not, we will have to be very creative with some of our elective classes.”

If students do end up meeting in smaller groups, they won’t be required to meet if they or their parents are not comfortable with it.

Each teacher will call their students’ parents to assess the needs and concerns of every family sometime during the week of March 23-27.

“We are always partners with parents in educating kids, but it will be even more important during this phase where we will depend on this partnership for student growth,” Helfrich said.

The Continuous Learning Plan will be made to adapt to the changing guidance and restrictions from State and Federal authorities.

Since students did not know they wouldn’t be returning to school after spring break, some materials needed for learning are still in desks and lockers. A schedule will be developed this week for students to pick up their items.

To minimize physical contact, Helfrich encourages everyone to communicate via email or phone, but says school secretaries will not have more information than provided on the school website and Facebook page.

“If you need to visit personally, please schedule for an appointment with the building principal,” Helfrich wrote on the USD 382 Facebook page.

Before the Continuous Learning is implemented, the USD 382 Board of Education will have a meeting to approve the plan so it can be submitted to the State. The meeting will be streamed on Friday, and anyone who wishes to see that meeting can go to the Pratt USD 382 Facebook page for updates on when that will happen.

Students will begin their Continuous Learning on Monday, March 30.

Helfrich encourages any questions to be directed toward the new email created specifically for the coronavirus, covid19@usd382.com.