Continuous Learning Plan presented, passed, implemented in Pratt school district

Kahrie Stegman
Pre-k teachers at USD 382 prepare lessons for their students which are shared in learning packed in accordance with the new Continuous Learning Plan in place for the district.

The special Pratt USD 382 Board of Education meeting on March 30 was different from most meetings, as board members and district staff held their meeting over the Zoom platform. Because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, those in attendance at the meeting were all on a video chat that all members could be seen and heard if they wished.

The purpose of this particular meeting was to have the new Continuous Learning Plan (CLP) approved and sent to the state so it could be implemented in USD 382 schools.

Superintendent Tony Helfrich started the meeting off by explaining the Continuous Learning Plan and food services offered to students.

Before spring break, all students were sent a survey about whether or not students had internet capabilities at home, and the results came back with 92% of students having internet.

“We understood that we would need alternatives, but we could see the vast majority could access the internet so that would certainly be an important tool for us,” Helfrich said.

Helfrich explained that teachers used the previous week, March 23 to 27, to create a CLP for all students.

All teachers planned the rest of the semester using CLP guidance provided by the Department of Education Task Force. The same week, all teachers reached out to their students to address needs and concerns.

In order to continue clear communication, the administrative team meets every day over Zoom to discuss how the plans are working for the different grade levels.

Assistant Superintendent David Schmidt next explained how the rest of the semester would look like for pre-k students. All parents of pre-k students picked up learning packets and their plan for the next six weeks on Friday, April 4. Various learning activities were created for the pre-k students to finish out the semester. To make it easier for parents to know what to do with their kids, administration created a ‘learning grid.’

“What we wanted to do was give parents enough information on a daily basis, but we also didn’t want to have daily contact,” Schmidt said. “It’s going to be a continued look at what they would get in the classroom, but obviously on a smaller scale. Every parent will have the tools they need to complete each individual activity.”

Teachers will touch base with all pre-k parents at least every other week.

Next, the Southwest Elementary Principal and Vice Principal, Jason May and Kirsten Blankenship, explained how instruction would work at the elementary school.

To get the instructions out to parents, they decided to use Facebook as their main platform.

“We went with Facebook because we figured most parents are pretty familiar with how to navigate it,” May said.

Jessica Hanvey, a teacher at Southwest, explained how communication will work through Facebook.

“We wanted Facebook to just be a delivery mode, we didn’t want anything necessarily turned in through there,” Hanvey said. “Even our families we were afraid we couldn’t reach have answered ‘yes’ to Facebook.”

Each Friday, new assignments are posted.

On Thursday, April 3, devices were offered to parents through a loan agreement so every student would have access to a device to learn on.

Students in kindergarten through second grade were offered iPads, and third and fourth graders were offered Chromebooks.

Students are given both required and optional assignments.

Blankenship went on to explain maximum time limits each teacher would be given to assign required work.

Kindergarten and first graders have 45 minutes worth of assignments to give out each day. Second and third graders could be assigned up to 60 minutes of work, and fourth graders should expect 60-90 minutes of work each day.

To make sure students are understanding the material, every family is contacted every week by the students’ teachers.

Liberty Middle School Principal Ryan Creadick presented the middle school CLP.

All advisor base (AB) teachers reached out to families in their AB, just like Pre-K and elementary teachers. All ABs meet at least twice per week over zoom.

To middle-school English teacher Sabre Dixon, making sure students stayed in contact with their AB teachers every week was very important.

“We really just wanted to make sure we still kept that social-emotional piece, and a lot of us were really worried about our kids being home all day long,” Dixon said. “We wanted to make sure they were still safe and were still being taken care of. It was important for us to be able to see their faces a couple of times a week.”

Google Classroom is the primary outlet for where students will find their assignments.

Seventh and eighth grade students already had chromebooks rented out for the year, so fifth and sixth graders were given chromebooks if they needed them.

The students are learning on a block schedule, meaning on Mondays and Thursdays, they work on math and science, and on Tuesdays and Fridays, they work on language arts and social studies. They are also assigned work for band, choir, P.E., etc.

Students work one to one and a half hours per subject, so 2-3 hours per day.

At the high school, the way teachers are sending out assignments is through a digital platform called Canvas.

Choir teacher Brandon Wade explained how the learning plan would work for high school students.

“We all understand that the internet can make us feel alone on an island,” Wade said. “We want to make sure we can reach the students where they’re at and let them know that they’re not alone, that we’re still here for them and that we still love them and care for them.”

“There’s no way that we can even begin to match what we did when kids were coming to us in the building, but what we do need to do right now is keep them connected to the school so that when we do get back together in the buildings, maybe those relationships are even better than they’ve ever been,” Blankenship said.

At the high school, each student should have no more than 25-30 minutes per subject each day for their seven classes.

Counselor Lori Myers emphasized the importance of updating grades weekly is for students’ consistency.

For students who are not turning in assignments, they are contacted by the counseling office to make sure they are okay.

Blankenship also talked about how they are handling helping seniors get through their final quarter emotionally.

“Many of them are probably worried about a lot of different things,” Blankenship said. “We want to make it special for them however we can at the end.”

The Continuous Learning Plan was passed as presented at the end of the meeting and has since been implemented into the schools.