BANDON – Bandon Schools Superintendent Doug Ardiana couldn’t be more excited. He’s figured out a plan to bring teachers back to work and get students on track for graduation or promoted to the next grade level, despite the closure of schools until at least April 28 due to the coronavirus crisis.
Ardiana rolled out the plan at an emergency Bandon School Board meeting last week, with the intent to get started immediately.
That plan will now change somewhat, as the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction and Director of the Oregon Department of Education Colt Gill also rolled out a statewide plan Monday evening called Distance Learning for All.
Ardiana said the new plan from ODE dovetails nicely with the one he and his staff already designed, though his will now be modified to fit ODE’s guidelines.
His plan involves bringing teachers back to work this week, where they are in the process of contacting parents to complete a survey of needs for each household.
Based on the survey and knowledge of their students, teachers will develop a test to determine proficiency for the course work. Students will be required to pass the test with 70% (the minimum level of proficiency).
Teachers will provide educational materials, resources and packets for students that are directly related to the proficiency test.
Ardiana said Special Education students will have Individual Education Plans to address proficiency and out-of-district students also will be a part of the survey. Individual plans to accommodate out-of-district students will be addressed.
“The staff will use the proficiency test as a pre-test to guide instruction for the remainder of the school year,” Ardiana wrote in his Educational Programming Overview. “The teachers will then provide instruction to provide more instruction on specific areas.”
The students will then retake the test in late May, Ardiana explained. If a student passes with a score of more than 70%, they will then be provided enrichment activities or assist with peer learning if appropriate.
Students who do not pass the test with be provided remediation work and retest.
“The goal will be to have all students meet the proficiency level of 70% or above," Ardiana wrote.
Students in grades K-8 will be allowed to be socially promoted with appropriate documentation in their student file. Students in grades 9-12 will have to pass the test with 70% or above in order to receive credit.
“I believe that our plan will meet the needs of the students,” Ardiana said.
Based on the student surveys, the district will provide technology (when appropriate), deliver meals and school work starting April 8.
“We will utilize district vans and drivers to deliver meals and educational packets directly to students,” Ardiana said. “The drivers and the educational assistants will be collecting student work while wearing protective gear.”
The student work will be taken to a room at Harbor Lights Middle School, where it will be scanned and sent directly to the teacher via Google classroom. The homework will then be placed in a plastic trash bag to preserve the packet for future review if needed.
Students who have the ability to be online will send their work directly to the teacher. The teacher will review and assess work of the students. If the student is able to be online, the teacher will provide results directly to the student.
If the student is not able to access information online, the teacher will print out the work and provide it to the student with the next packet.
“This way the teachers are not directly in contact with student work sent in from home,” Ardiana said.
Teachers, board weigh in
Bandon School Board members and administrators were enthusiastic about the plan and expressed their gratitude to Ardiana for moving ahead with what’s best for Bandon’s students.
“I appreciate the hard work you’ve put into this,” said Board Chairman Ryan Sherman at the emergency meeting on March 25.
“I think our goals that we set (for the district) are about student success,” said Board Member Marie Simonds. “I think this is an aggressive plan and I applaud our staff for not sitting back and waiting.”
Ocean Crest Elementary School Principal Becky Armistead said there are a lot of online options that will make the plan workable.
“We have teachers literally waiting at home to get in touch with their families,” Armistead said. “I think everyone is more concerned with the wellness of our families and keeping them engaged.”
The plan is based on schools reopening on April 29, though it has not yet been determined if that will be the plan.
If schools do not reopen on April 29, the Bandon School District will move forward with a pretest for students and provide packets and study guides for instruction (traditional and online).
In a message to all Oregon school districts from ODE, Gill wrote that ODE is partnering with districts “on an historic transformation of our education system to maintain care, connection and continuity of learning for our students.”
Oregon’s response to COVID-19 has responsibly and necessarily evolved with the use of data and knowledge of effective suppression measures, Gill wrote.
“We now have a moral imperative to meet the changing nature of the pandemic and evolve our approach to serving our children.
“As we continue the effective measures of Governor Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order, we also foresee the strong possibility that our students may not come back through our school house doors this academic year,” Gill continued. “This calls for a shift from providing supplementary education to a formidable effort to provide Distance Learning for All.”
Education without face-to-face interaction between students and teachers will look and feel different and cannot be fully replicated across a distance, Gill admitted.
“It will not and cannot happen overnight. We need the grace and patience of our state’s leaders, our communities, our families and our educators as we learn together to move powerfully to ensure care, connection, and continuity of learning happen in entirely new ways for our students.”
The Distance Learning for All plan will continue to evolve, but Bandon administrators and educators are on board, Ardiana said.
“I feel good about it,” Ardiana said. “I believe in our teaching staff and I believe we can do this. I have faith that we will work to go the extra mile to make this happen.”