Remote Learning Model

Overview


In the event that health conditions worsen or there is an outbreak in Needham (or one of our schools), we would revert to a full Remote Model for all students.
 
As of this document’s publication, we deemed this model feasible but less desirable than the Hybrid Model, as we believe that we can pursue as much in-person learning as possible. There are some families who, due to student medical concerns or personal and family issues, wish to have their children participate in a remote learning only model during the 2020-21 school year. We are calling this group of students the "Red Cohort" and more information can be found at the Remote Learning Academy  link provided here.

If the district needed to revert to a full remote model for all students, structurally, all students and staff would attend school online through Google ClassroomSeesaw, or other platforms, and school buildings would be closed to staff and students. Instructionally, however, families and students will experience change. Following guidance from DESE on remote learning, we have worked to reshape the learning experience for students. We spent time reflecting on our experiences with remote learning through community conversations and surveys from parents and students. From our families, we heard about the commitment from our staff, how a consistent schedule made things easier, and how adults treated students with respect through challenging times. At the same time, we heard loud and clear that there were areas for improvement, particularly around students’ social-emotional needs and their desire to interact with peers. This summer, almost 400 teachers are working together to review their instructional strategies, learn new technology skills, and recalibrate and adjust the curriculum so we will be prepared for students in the fall. We are excited to leverage our remote learning experience into new ideas and strategies in order to enhance the experience for our students.

Instructional Model

Students would be expected to participate in both regular live classes as well as asynchronous, independent tasks. Teachers would take attendance daily and provide regular feedback, and outside of class, teachers would be available for individual video appointments or support by email. At all levels, the start and end times of the school day would remain the same as in prior years, though schedules would be adjusted to accommodate different virtual needs. Teachers would plan to cover essential concepts for each unit, common sequencing and pacing of the units with various approaches to accommodate in-person and remote learning scenarios. However, teachers would teach less curriculum due not only to fewer days, but also due to the need to adapt to the online setting. We would make every attempt to ensure the curriculum is comparable to in-person learning so that all student learning is moving in a positive direction.

 

Elementary: Each day, students would have an opportunity to "launch learning" with school-based personnel. Students would join the staff member through an online platform. In addition, a combination of homeroom and special area teachers would provide daily check-ins on learning with all students learning from home, with the end result of students having a minimum of two synchronous interactions with school personnel each day. This is intended to give teachers an opportunity to gauge remote student progress, preview and review material, assess understanding, and provide remediation and extension whenever appropriate.

 

Each school day would vary in structure, as students will be participating in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning.  A schedule for the week’s learning activities would be sent home every Sunday afternoon.  Students and families would use features of Seesaw or Google Classroom to stay informed about classwork and homework due each day and week. 

 

Middle and High: Students would participate in both live lessons as well as asynchronous, independent work for each subject. Parents would use features of Google Classroom to stay informed about classwork and homework due each day/week. In addition, parents would access My Homework at High Rock and Pollard for classwork and homework information. And, as usual, parents would use PowerSchool to see grades and report cards.

 

Wednesdays: Wednesdays would be split into a morning session, in which teachers work with students in (mostly) synchronous instruction, and an afternoon session for teacher training, collaboration, meetings, and lesson planning while students complete independent and asynchronous learning. Remote learning would also be provided at the preschool level following an individualized schedule.

 

Technology: We currently provide one-to-one devices for all of our students in grades 6 through 12. Under the Remote Model, we would expand our one-to-one devices to the elementary schools, so that all students between grades K through 12 receive one-to-one devices. In summary, students in grades K-2 and 6-8 would receive iPads, and students in grades 3-5 and 9-12 would receive Chromebooks. Some of these devices for grades K-2 are on backorder and would not be available for the first day of school. Principals and staff would work closely with parents to develop a phased distribution of devices.

 

All students would participate in live class and asynchronous instruction through Zoom, Google Classroom, Seesaw, and other platforms as identified by the district.

 

Students With Disabilities: For students with disabilities, regardless of cohort or week, we would continue to provide all services as required in each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). For students who learn in a remote setting or in the few instances where services cannot be safely delivered as written in the IEP, parents/guardians would be notified in writing with specific information about how the services would be provided. Careful thought would be given to classroom assignments and service delivery schedules to provide IEP services in the Least Restrictive Environment while maintaining current health and safety protocols. In accordance with DESE guidance, students with high needs, in particular preschool-aged students and students with significant, complex disabilities and ELLs with intensive needs, may receive in-person instruction more regularly due to challenges with remote learning.

 

English Learners: All English Learners, regardless of cohort, would continue to receive necessary services and accommodations in order to support their English language development.

 

Additional Supports: All students would have contact information for their teachers and service providers so that students and families could ask questions, get feedback, and continue to learn regardless of setting. In addition, we would aim to continue providing students with academic support and intervention, as well as social emotional support, such as guidance services. However, there might be some situations that would change the service delivery model. For example, staff members who typically provide intervention services could be assigned to teach additional class sections; this would lead to smaller class sizes, but fewer opportunities for individual or small-group academic intervention.

 

Assessment and Grading: We developed an assessment tool to administer this fall to provide feedback on social emotional functioning and the concerns of students at the building and district level. We will use this information to plan school and district responses based on how our students are doing. We will also use the data to provide a multi-tiered system of support with interventions for students who report higher levels of anxiety and fear, racial inequity, and racial trauma. Academically, students would be graded on the same scale as prior to March 2020. For elementary, this assessment would be via parent-teacher conferences in the fall and spring, with written progress reports sent home mid-year and on the last day of school for Grades K–5 indicating competencies that children are developing in the following areas: social/emotional, academic knowledge/application and related arts and physical education. At the secondary level, students would be assessed on the traditional A to F grading system. Grades and attendance would continue to be posted on PowerSchool. 

Health & Safety

Students would be at home so masks would not be required nor would social distancing be a concern in NPS buildings. No students or staff would be allowed in NPS buildings. 

Operational Considerations

Physical Space: Students and staff would participate in remote instruction from their homes, and would not be allowed in school buildings.

 

Transportation: Needham would not provide transportation to students.

 

Nutrition Services: Staff would continue to provide community meals for economically disadvantaged families. Families would continue to pick these meals up at High Rock.

Summary

We want to open our doors to our students, and we want to welcome families back into our buildings. We want to move beyond a Remote Model, as we know our students learn best in-person, and we know the challenges that it can pose for working families. However, the health and safety of our students and staff comes first, and we want to be prepared in the event that we do need to shift to a Remote Model to address heightened health concerns or risks.



NOTE: Over the course of this school year, it is possible that we will shift from a Hybrid Model to the Remote Model and back to Hybrid. Any decision will be based on guidance from state and local authorities.

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