- I could be the teensiest bit biased here, but this is my favorite of the school reopening plans I have read about so far. I particularly appreciate the every-four-weeks opportunity for families to switch between in-person and online learning. And I use that term “online learning” deliberately here (rather than the squishier “remote learning”), because that is definitely what it is. (ThisWeek News, 8/13/20) Wellington doesn’t start its school year until September 8, but Emerson Academy in Dayton started the year this past Wednesday. The description we have here—nicely detailed—sounds to me like live, synchronous, proper “online learning” with lots of energy, backstops, and innovation in evidence. As befits the charter school ethos, the early-starters of Emerson feel like pioneers. “…I told my teachers, let’s just get it going, and we can help write the playbook for other schools,” said Principal Landon Brown. He added that educators must accept that the online start of the year is not going to be perfect. They just have to jump in, start figuring it out and move students forward. Sounds just right to me. (Dayton Daily News, 8/13/20)
- The one thing we didn’t hear about in the private school story above was student transportation. I know for a fact that kids come to Wellington from all over central Ohio, transported by school buses with many different districts’ names emblazoned on them. The question of how—and more importantly, whether—remote-learning districts will be firing up the old yellow buses this fall to deliver resident students to their in-person private or charter schools seems to be a hot button issue. We’ve already seen the tension playing out writ small in Dayton, but you know when the state gets involved—both ODE and the legislature—it’s gonna get writ large quickly. Stay tuned. (Columbus Dispatch, 8/14/20)
- You know, I don’t perhaps give enough props to hardworking local journalists around Ohio. Not only do they do yeoman’s work in getting stories and getting them to print every day (not to mention the fact that without them these clips would suck even more than they sometimes do), but they often also have the inside track to stories that perhaps wouldn’t always get out. The relationships journalists develop with their local sources are vital to this latter point. Reporters and sources are both integral in getting important stories out to members of the public who need to know. Symbiotic, you might say. To those journalists, I say I’m sorry for not being more grateful on the regular. Why am I bringing this all up just now? No reason, really. Let’s finish up. We learned this week thanks to one of those intrepid local journalists that the leaders of Lorain City Schools have interpreted ODE’s pandemic-related graduation requirement flexibility to include the retroactive awarding of diplomas to former district students as far back as the Class of 1994. We are told that district officials are pro-actively contacting some of those individuals in order to issue them retroactive diplomas. Curriculum and assessment coordinator Sarah Eagan-Reeves told the MJ, “I'm glad that the state allowed us the ability to do this, because it really allows people to get on with their lives.” This, frankly, smells to me. I don’t know a lot about politics and legislation, but it seems like a pretty broad interpretation of that pandemic-related flexibility. If anything, they should have started with students who missed out on graduation due to the 1918 pandemic. That would be more defensible in my humble opinion. But hey, what do I know? All I can say for sure is that I am super happy for local journalists eager to get their stories out and their equally-dedicated local sources. (Morning Journal, 8/12/20) Meanwhile, and probably just coincidentally, we learned from the same journalist and sources that Lorain City Schools is anticipating a sizeable learning gap for its returning students this year. It’s a bit confusing as to why officials are certain that gap will occur—regional and national data and Covid infection rates are cited—and so is the discussion of what the district is doing to prepare for and address it. But at least the district has flexibility on the far end of it all. Don’t they? (Morning Journal, 8/13/20)
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