Since the enhanced online model to begin the 2020-21 academic year for Lodi schools was approved by the school board, the district has been working on a way to provide a more coherent structure of schedules and instruction when classes begin.
Daily schedules and staff expectations were presented to the school board at its monthly meeting on Aug. 10.
The board also approved the motion to highly encourage staff to utilize the buildings as they see fit for work, training and collaboration. Staff is not required to be in the buildings on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to provide instruction. Wednesdays are collaboration days for teachers and online activity days for students.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Nicholas Karls received feedback from families in regards to creating a clear, coherent structure for all students. He said families wanted additional live opportunities to interact with teachers as well as recorded instruction. The families also wanted one-on-one support and consistent communication.
Each principal then presented what a daily schedule would look like using traditional school hours and setting times for each activity, but maintaining flexibility for families in case their availability alters from “normal” school hours. All information is communicated with parents.
For the 4K through fifth grades, LES Principal Mike Pisani, who also spoke on behalf of LPS Principal Amy Fassbender, presented their schedules as their instruction would be very similar.
The expectations for teachers in those buildings are to have a live whole class community building session for 30 minutes per day. Teachers will also be asked to record mini sessions for 10-15 minutes on the subjects of literacy, math and writing with essential content. There will also be live small group meetings/lessons for 30 minutes per day, and specialists (Art, Music, Phy. Ed.) will record a lesson for 10-15 minutes to be used twice per week. The recorded lessons ensure that students see and hear teachers at least once a day.
“We know that families won’t be able to sit down and follow that schedule because of obstacles at home, so those recorded components are of value to those families,” Karls said, adding that some teachers may prefer to add some evening hours for that additional support.
“We want to build even more safety nets than we had in the spring,” Pisani said.
Teachers at the LES and LPS level will also hold live office hours for at least 30 minutes day for students and parents to ask questions. There will also be 30 minutes set aside each day for students to interact with other adults of the support staff for various social and academic needs.
For the middle school and high school levels, the same general concept applies for what kind of instruction and support is being provided.
Live or recorded instruction will take place for at least 10-40 each day as each teacher will host at least one live large classroom lesson per week for 20 minutes. Each class will also have two large group lessons per week and two recorded lessons. Specialists will have one recorded lesson per week for LMS students. Lessons are to be recorded for students who miss the time slot for whatever reason and for students to be able to review later in the week.
“There’s a minimum of three times per day to interact with teachers and other students in a live fashion,” LMS Principal Joe Prosek said.
There will also be live small group or individual classroom meetings for 45-60 minutes per day as scheduled by the teacher. Teachers will also have live office hours for 45-60 minutes per day and there is a 15-30 minute period per day for students to get extra support from counselors or other staff, including coaches.
According to LHS Principal Joe Jelinek, the schedule will look familiar to students, but the high school will go to a straight block schedule. That means that kids will have four classes a day as opposed to eight and teachers will be responsible for three classes a day as opposed to six.
“Staff members have flexibility of what classes look like,” Jelinek said. He added that he doesn’t envision teachers being live for 90 minutes a day four times a week.
Homeroom teachers will have a social emotional lesson on Mondays and then check in with students on the other days.
“It offers structure and consistency,” Jelinek said. “There’s one hour per day where teachers can engage with students and families.”
A few options were presented for teacher schedules. One was for them to be in the building from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and another had them in the buildings for half-days, but the board agreed to allow them to have the flexibility of being at home or in the building at their discretion. The board wants them to access the building in preparation for returning for in-person instruction, hopefully at some point this school year. Breunig noted that building principals will then have discussions with their respective staff on potential schedules.
Also in the talks regarding the staff, the board also approved the motion to keep benefits whole for all support staff, have them engage with students and families and work to move employees to different roles, if need be, throughout an instructional model this year.
With the WIAA pushing the start dates back for fall sports, the board approved the low-risk sports to begin practicing on Monday, Aug. 17.
Two of the sports are outdoors in all facets (cross country and tennis), while swimming was also approved. Middle school cross country can also begin practicing.
“There’s a lot of concern, and rightfully so, about co-curriculars,” Breunig said. “They help with the social emotional well-being.”
Four options for fall sports was presented to the board. One was to not allow fall sports to meet, practice or compete and another was to move fall sports to the spring and play a shorter condensed season to correlate with winter and traditional spring sports. The third option would be to allow all fall sports to compete and the fourth option is to allow the low-risk sports to compete.
“If we’re trying to reopen, this is a slow way of getting there, small pieces,” Breunig said.
Competition for teams has not been approved yet, as the district is waiting on guidelines or action resulting from an upcoming WIAA meeting.
The board unanimously approved to suspend the Teacher Assistant Program for 2020-21 and add a second senior release in replacement for those participating in the program.
Board member Steven Ricks brought up the idea of asking those who would have been in the program if they would be interested in becoming tutors for younger students.
“It’s throwing every resource out there,” Ricks said.
The board also approved a five-year lease agreement with the National Federation of High School (NFHS) sports to allow events to be streamed from school facilities, in the event sports come back and fans are limited. The system could eventually be a paid subscription services to parents and fans once the COVID-19 pandemic settles down. Also approved was for Peak Systems group to upgrade the camera system in the Performing Arts Center for $11,650, which goes along with be able to stream video from district facilities.
The turf for the high school stadium hit a bit of a snag recently as the factory that provides some of the fibers was shut down momentarily due to COVID-19. The turf was to be installed toward the end of July, but Breunig anticipates that work to now be done soon.
Also, the board accepted the donation of a piano valued at $500 from Sharon Easley and a $1,000 donation to be used for the LHS volleyball program.