Remote Learning Options for Students
As we have turned the corner and come back to school five days per week, full time and in-person, most of us hoped for a return to normal. Most educators hoped for a return to school that looks more like 2019 than the reality that we have in 2021. While we have been able to come back to schools for full days, provide all of our specialized instruction, small groups, and after-school activities, we still have to follow guidance to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in order for our schools to remain open. In the midst of still evolving guidance comes the reality that although there is no more full-time remote instruction, we will still have circumstances where remote learning must take place.
The latest NJDOE guidance 'encourages' educators to prepare for remote learning options. Districts are interpreting this in various ways. In Clifton Public Schools, we are committed to all of our students learning all year. Going fully remote is not something that is implied by recent guidance; however, ensuring continuity of instruction for all of our learners is. Home Instruction helps provide that continuity for those students who are unable to attend school due to a medical necessity. But existing Home Instruction Policies do not necessarily address the issues of quarantine during this continuing health crisis. The current guidance challenges us to educate children who are quarantined for as long as that may be.
Clifton has modified our Home Instruction Policy to leverage best practices learned during remote instruction last year. Online and virtual programs, both synchronous and asynchronous, can be used in multiple ways depending upon student needs. Full-time simultaneous synchronous instruction was not optimal for some students and teachers during the pandemic. However, a hybrid approach allowing a student quarantined by the district to be able to "log in" to a class Google Meet while completing their work asynchronously allows the benefit of both worlds. These students are able to have access to their teacher for questions, can follow along with instruction, and still have the flexibility to complete their work on their own time and schedules. Students quarantined for other reasons have full access to Google classrooms and can participate in after-school synchronous virtual meets with teachers for support. And of course, those students requiring full medical Home Instruction can still receive individualized support following state mandates.
While full-time remote instruction is not a place to which we want to return, we can take the silver lining of instructional flexibility and personalization to enhance our student offerings. As we work through another challenging year, it is our goal to ensure that all of our students are able to access high-quality instruction.