Denair students, teachers and other staff are making final preparations to resume classes Wednesday under a distance-learning format because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and health concerns in Stanislaus County.
The Denair Unified School District serves more than 1,300 kindergarten through 12th-grade students on its four campuses. Administrators and staff have spent much of the time since school let out in May creating what Superintendent Terry Metzger calls a “reasonable and sustainable” education model, one that will provide all students with “the academic and social-emotional support they need to be successful in this new way of learning.”
“We fully recognize how difficult this is for many of our families and we want to assure you that we are here to partner with you,” Metzger wrote in an open letter to parents last week.
With time to plan, Denair’s distance-learning format will be more structured and rigorous than what was rolled out when COVID-19 forced Denair and all other public school districts in California to cancel in-person classes in March. Since then, there have been many training opportunities for teachers and detailed discussions about how best to engage and educate students across all grade levels. Collaboration between teachers and sharing best practices for distance learning has been stressed.
Last week, Denair High School and Denair Middle School hosted orientations for students and their parents. Social distancing requirements were enforced. Chromebook computers were checked out to students who needed them. Daily class schedules were shared and academic expectations outlined.
“Teachers were grateful for the
opportunity to meet students, see them again and give them instructions and
textbooks,” said DMS Principal Amanda Silva of Thursday’s event. “Between now
and the first day of school, teachers will be sending out emails to students
with instructions on what to do on the first day of school.”
Monday, teachers at Denair Elementary Charter Academy began calling parents to set up appointments for them and their children to come to campus beginning Wednesday to pick up distance-learning materials as well as Chromebooks.
DECA Principal Kelly Beard said that distance learning “will be a combination of online learning and paper/packet work.”
“Students will have daily live interaction with their teacher and peers as well as assignments to complete digitally or via paper,” Beard said. “Our distance learning plan will be standards aligned and provide consistency for students yet allow for flexibility to complete assignments throughout the day.”
Registration and orientation also is occurring at Denair Charter Academy, which provides support to parents for K-8 home-schooling as well as independent study classes for high school students. Principal Breanne Aguiar said DCA’s first-ever home-school orientation via Zoom and socially distanced on-campus meetings went well last week.
Across all the district’s sites, teachers will work from campus and home to provide live instruction, pre-recorded lessons and work individually with students. Instructors also will set “office hours” to answer questions from parents.
Metzger said Denair Unified is “committed to providing a great educational experience for each student in the district.” She encouraged parents to reach out to their child’s teachers or principal to discuss any thoughts or concerns.
The superintendent also touched on one final subject in her open letter to parents. “We know the last several months have been difficult for many students and families,” she wrote, citing research that anxiety and depression have increased because of the COVID situation. “Each of our schools has a counselor and we have two mental health clinicians who can provide support if your child is struggling emotionally or behaviorally. … Please contact the school office if you would like to talk with a counselor about your specific situation.”