The Maryland State Board of Education voted April 14 to waive the requirement that schools hold 180 days of instruction. The new minimum is 175 days, with five of the 10 emergency closure days taken March 16-27 also waived, according to the Montgomery County website.
With the shifting and substituting of days, MCPS announced last weekend that the last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year will be June 15.
How are teachers and students spending the remaining instructional days? Mainly, it seems to be determined by grade level.
Connelly School of the Holy Child enrolls girls in grades six through 12. The first message on the school’s website reads: “Connelly School of the Holy Child is not closed. While our classrooms may look a bit different these days, we are actively engaged in e-learning during this time.”
“We know that student engagement is the greatest challenge when moving out of a face to face classroom to a virtual classroom,” said LeAnne Kannapell, Associate Head of School at Holy Child. “Frequent formative assessments and timely teacher feedback helps teachers plan and adjust lessons. Through technology applications available through teams and other applications students can respond quickly and in motivating ways.”
Students at Holy Child meet for live lessons twice a week for each class. Fridays are for community days when students meet with their advisors, work on projects collaboratively, and more.
Bullis School, with students in kindergarten through grade 12, started remote learning Wednesday, March 18 and will “continue until further notice.”
“Maintaining normalcy was even more important for students in Lower School. For students in kindergarten through fifth grade, the homeroom is the center of the day,…” according to the Bullis website, so teachers “…maintained the routine of morning check-ins where students saw classmates, introduced pets and siblings, and began the day with a structured reimagined morning meeting.”
MONTGOMERY COUNTY Public Schools, with over 160,000 students in preschool through grade 12, has the largest job transitioning to remote learning of area schools.
This week MCPS is beginning its fifth week of online learning and is also providing a meal service program.
The MCPS plan for the last grading period, which began April 20, divided by grade level:
At the elementary level, students will: Participate in math lessons three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
Participate in literacy lessons two days a week (Tuesday and Thursday), which includes daily independent reading time for Grades PreK-1 (20 min) and Grades 2-5 (30-40 min)
Participate in art, music and physical education (P.E.) lessons at a time that works best for each family (pre-recorded lessons are available to families every other Monday)
Middle and high school students will:
Receive new content and assignments in all their core courses and electives each week
Have opportunities to connect with and receive support from teachers during office hours, according to the local school schedule
Receive feedback from teachers on assignments
More from the MCPS website:
“In general, secondary students can expect to receive one to two meaningful assignments each week in each course and can expect to be working for up to four hours each day. Please note that the total time students are engaged in learning activities will be determined by course level and the full range of assignments that students receive in all their subjects.
“Students can submit their assignments via Google Classroom, myMCPS classroom or email. Although teachers will introduce new content and assignments for students to complete, it is important to remember that the work students complete and the feedback teachers provide during this time is not meant to replace the day-to-day instruction that students would have received at school.
“Our goal is to maintain key aspects of the classroom experience: engaging with content, collaborating with peers, receiving support from staff, and moving forward in the learning process through assignments and feedback. The learning experiences are meant to maintain a continuity of learning; facilitate and track progress; and encourage students to challenge themselves and grow in their knowledge. The scheduled office hours are an important time to connect with teachers, engage in additional learning, and receive support as needed.”
Every school is trying to combine online learning, support to students, and an attempt at normalcy with a focus on academics.
As Jamie Dickie, Bullis School Executive Director of Technology said, “It’s not going to be normal, but we want to add a dash of normal to a crazy situation.”