Virtual learning option applications due today

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 8/5/20

According to Gasconade R-2 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy on Tuesday afternoon, the district had received plenty of calls to district administrators about the 2020-21 virtual learning …

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Virtual learning option applications due today

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According to Gasconade R-2 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy on Tuesday afternoon, the district had received plenty of calls to district administrators about the 2020-21 virtual learning option, but no applications had been submitted yet.

“Parents are contacting the building administrators by phone to discuss it,” Hardy said. “Administrators are making parents aware of exactly what distance learning encompasses.”

Since the July 20 board meeting, the district has decided that they will use a vendor to provide the virtual learning option — it will not be taught by Gasconade County R-2 teachers. Hardy said one of the main questions from parents and students is what kinds of activities can they participate in if they choose virtual learning.

“If students are attending virtually, they cannot participate in extracurricular activities,” Hardy said. “Several have inquired about the option and they have until 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday (today) when the building principals leave.”

In order to choose virtual learning, parents have to submit the application form to the building principal.

“We have had a lot of calls, but have not received any forms,” Hardy said.

Parents and students were advised to contact their building administrator to learn more about the virtual learning option. So far Hardy said they have received 83 calls total.

OHS — 24 calls.

OMS — 27 calls.

OES — 31 calls.

GES — 10 calls.

“One question that stands out is ‘what happens if I start sending my kids to school and decide to pull them and do distance learning?’” Hardy said.

Parents may pull their student from class and opt into distance learning in the middle of the semester, but the district must pay for a full semester of learning. Therefore, the student’s timeline is off.

“They can do that, but then the student is obligated to stay in the virtual learning program for that semester and the following semester because their first semester would not end where the in-class first semester ends and they cannot start in-school classes in the middle of the semester,” Hardy said. “And if they are choosing to distance-learn, they are opting out of extracurricular activities.”

For parents who are concerned about their students being required to wear masks or be socially distanced with plexiglass, Hardy had a few clarifications.

“Marks are not a requirement at this time,” she said. “Students will not be expected to eat at their desks or be isolated in the classrooms. However, plexiglass dividers have been installed where students cannot reasonably social distance.”

Examples include the cafeteria lunch tables. Plexiglass has been installed in the center of the table so students facing each other have a barrier. Also, kidney shaped tables that are used in various classrooms have plexiglass installed between the student and teacher.

“The biggest transmission is not from student to student but to adults,” Hardy said. “Adults are more proven to get COVID. Student to adult is where the biggest transmission is coming from, not adult to student. We only installed plexiglass where physical distancing is not possible.”

The district’s re-entry plan and virtual learning plan are up on the Gasconade County R-2 District’s webpage. There are bullet-point guides to the virtual learning option on page 13 of the plan. Building administrators must be contacted before 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner said they district’s administrators have the next three weeks to finalize plans for what the 2020-21 school year will look like. They’ve had inquiries about virtual learning options through emails. Parents are asking, “what will it look like,” he said Monday.

“It’s a major concern for everybody,” Garner said of the options. “Nothing replaces the teacher in the classroom for learning.”

He admitted there was a great deal of uncertainty — the unknowns in how the school year will play out.

“I feel less prepared for the first day of the school year than I did 30 years ago on my first day of teaching,” he said. “I had mentors. A clear direction of what to expect.”

Today, he said, “there is a great deal of uncertainty.”

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