With the change in restrictions and rising positive cases of COVID-19 in Utah, the topic of closures is on many minds. Therefore, online schooling and grading was an agenda item discussed during Wednesday evening’s Carbon School Board meeting.
While some members of the school board and employees of Carbon School District (CSD) attended the meeting in person, many also chose the option of attending virtually as the meeting was streamed online for those interested.
Mika Salas of the CSD stated that they are in a very different place now than they were in the fourth quarter of 2020 when schools were abruptly closed. in the spring, they were unsure of how long the closure would extend and were not fully prepared and simply reacted to the situation at hand. However, since then, they have worked extensively to use CARES Act funding to assist in virtual learning and have applied for two additional grants.
Cameras have been purchased for teachers and staff while a standard protocol of what software to use for online learning has been determined. Currently, teachers are using Google Classroom and Canvas. Teachers have also undergone training both individually and in groups.
Salas remarked that they feel as if they are in a much better place now and teachers have been directed to have two weeks of online schooling ready to go. That way, in the event that a closure does happen, there will be very little prep to begin and students would not have to take two or three days away from their learning. Rather, they should be able to begin immediately, which was not the case in March.
Because of the preparation, training and technology, as well as working on how-to videos for parents and students, there are many more resources available now. Furthermore, the students have had time to practice and get more comfortable with the atmosphere of online learning.
Salas stated that the Carbon School District is not only ready technology-wise, but the expectation of more similar work and grading has been set. The expectation would be to complete all given assignments. The assignments would then be graded, not exactly the same as in-person learning, but with some adjustments. Students would still be given a letter grade to show their progress.
Salas also remarked that in the event of going virtual again, the hope is to never go more than two weeks at a time, which is not the same as the fourth quarter of 2020. Even if there was an extension over two weeks, the CSD would take the responsibility to communicate with parents and explain how the schooling would be conducted this time around. She also stated that there are some teachers that are responsible solely for the online portion of schooling.