For the Osceola School District, there’s not enough time in the school year. With the Coronavirus pandemic causing massive uncertainty to any proposed schedule, the Board of Education navigates unknown obstacles as they come.
A special meeting was held on June 15 to create a calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. The calendar’s final draft was proposed and approved by the board on June 24, after much discussion and reorganization. Of course, no school year schedule can be perfect during such an upsetting time.
The reason the calendar has been so unmanageable is that this year, teachers have to learn a whole new way of running their classrooms. The online model of teaching, which has been rapidly exercised this past spring, isn’t sustainable. However, the traditional, in-class model of teaching isn’t an option either. The solution is a blended model of both virtual and in-class teaching, and that comes with a whole slough of unknown challenges.
For educators to process and solve these challenges, in-service days are vital. In-service days provide time for teachers to work through problems and reevaluate systems to suit the needs of their students. They also offer scheduled time to grow accustomed to the equipment. The problem is, with only so many days in a school year, it’s tough to find times for the additional in-service days.
Not only is it nearly impossible to devise a satisfying schoolyear calendar, but maintaining virtual classrooms for an unknown amount of time is similarly challenging.
“I don’t know – even if we can have all the in-service time we would like to have – if it’s really feasible to have a full virtual academy for our kids that they’ll be successful with,” said Brian Meyer, vice president of the school board. “I mean, I just don’t think our kids would be ready for that, even if we had the best virtual curriculum possible.”
The board understands that whatever happens this semester, it will take the whole school community to keep things on track.
“The likelihood of us going through the entire school year with no interruptions, is possible, but likely not probable,” said Sup. Mark Luebker.
Quarentined students have the option to continue class via Schoology, the online education program.
In preparation for the school year, teachers began learning how to operate the virtual classroom system on June 24.
“Today was our . . . second day of training for our learning management system at the high school,” Luebker said. “That involved the intermediate school, middle school, and high school staff who volunteered to be the trainers.”
The schedule also includes floating in-service days for greater flexibility. With the unpredictable nature of the upcoming school year, a rigid, set-in-stone calendar just won’t work.
The board approved the calendar, and it can be found on the Osceola School District website. Osceola schools can rest easy with a plan to guide them through the year. But staff, teachers, and students can expect more adaptations and adjustments throughout the year.