With the announcement by Governor Kay Ivey that schools would not reopen for the remainder of the current school year, the Shelby County Schools leadership and instructional teams began the challenging task of developing a new digital eLearning Instructional Plan for the district.
That electronic learning plan was unveiled to parents and students on April 1 in an email that was distributed via each school’s ListServ.
“The COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve but one thing that remains unchanged is the district’s dedication to providing quality instructional opportunities for students in Shelby County Schools,” said Dr. Lewis Brooks, Superintendent of Education.
“The health and welfare of students and staff is of utmost importance,” Dr. Brooks continued. “At a time when many things are uncertain, we want to ensure that schoolwork does not cause additional hardship. Instruction will look vastly different for the remainder of this school year. We will work with families and will be flexible during this challenging time.”
According to the plan, the instructional goal for all of Shelby County Schools is to keep students engaged in enrichment activities and facilitate learning for the remaining weeks of this school year. Instruction will begin on April 6 and will conclude on May 21.
Teachers will provide academic opportunities via eLearning based on critical state standards that have been identified for each subject and grade.
“Instruction for the remainder of this school year will not look like traditional classroom instruction,” said Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Lynn Carroll, who also serves as Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. “eLearning serves the purpose of enrichment, engagement, and continuation of learning on critical standards for each subject and grade.”
Dr. Carroll explained that teaching and learning will focus mostly on the four core subjects of English Language Arts (reading and writing), math, science, and social studies. Opportunities for enrichment in elective subjects such as art, music, and physical education will be provided but will be less frequent.
“Instructional assignments will be delivered through online learning platforms that students are familiar with and have been using this school year,” said Dr. Carroll. “Instructional activities can be done at any time of day, so students in the same family can share a device.”
Google Classroom will serve as the instructional platform for students in all grades. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will login and utilize all programs through the Clever app.
“Lessons will be posted by Monday morning and students will have until Thursday to complete the assignments, unless a different due date is given by the teacher for specific assignments,” Dr. Carroll explained. “Friday will be designated as time for teachers to collaboratively plan and give feedback to students.”
Students are expected to participate in eLearning assignments in order to reinforce core academic standards and prepare students for the next school year. Students with failing grades at the end of the third reporting period will be enrolled in an intervention program in addition to classroom assignments.
Shelby County teachers will be checking email periodically throughout the week and will be available to answer questions students and parents may have. Pre-recorded videos of teachers providing instruction on critical standards will also be included.
All elementary students will receive their math workbooks, Studies Weekly Magazines and K-3 will also receive handwriting workbooks. Activities packets will be available by request for students in secondary grades.
Seniors who were on track to graduate and in good standing as of March 13 will be deemed to have met all graduation requirements for the state of Alabama and may be finished with all coursework. For those students, third-quarter grades will entirely comprise their second-semester course averages.
Should a senior wish to improve his or her third-quarter grade(s), he or she will be given the opportunity to do so through online assignments. Seniors who were not on track and not in good standing as of March 13 will be allowed to pursue credit recovery as directed by local school administration.
Seniors who graduate but have not completed the requirements for a Career Technical Education (CTE) credential will be allowed to do so at a later date when physical return to school is possible. The lack of a credential will not prevent or delay graduation.
Seniors enrolled in dual enrollment courses should adhere to guidance from the sponsoring college or university with regards to course completion.
“Our goal, now and always, is for seniors to graduate on time,” said Dr. Brooks.
Dr. Brooks added he is still hopeful that the novel coronavirus will subside in order for local high schools to possibly hold graduation ceremonies in June. However, he can’t make any promises due to the uncertainty of what will happen and whether the district will be granted permission to do so by the governor and the state superintendent.