Yuma Union High School District families were provided a snapshot of what the 2020-2021 academic year may look like during the district’s governing board meeting Wednesday evening.
Presented by Superintendent Gina Thompson, the draft plan affords families a choice between hybrid and distance-only instruction after Aug. 17, following the two weeks of distance learning that will take place via Canvas (the district’s online learning management system) when the fall semester begins Aug. 6.
Thompson noted that all plans and target dates are subject to change as more information becomes available with the progression of time and the evolution of Yuma County’s public health landscape.
“This is the plan as of this moment,” she said. “Life seems to be in draft form right now and we will make changes and updates, but everything that we have, the most current and up-to-date information, will always be on yumaunion.org or your campus website.”
HYBRID LEARNING MODEL
To minimize the number of students on campuses at one time, a hybrid model would shorten the in-person school week to two days, filling the remaining three days with online learning via Canvas.
Students whose last names begin with A-L would attend classes in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, while students whose last names begin with M-Z would attend classes in-person on Thursdays and Fridays. Instruction on Wednesdays would be online-only districtwide to allow for thorough cleaning of campuses and align with Yuma School District One’s hybrid learning schedule, as both districts share a transportation consortium. Exceptions apply to students needing individual support or supplemental learning.
With three in-person class periods scheduled each day, there would be fewer transitions between classrooms and thus, according to Thompson, fewer needs for personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies during the day.
“Again, this is where we are in this moment,” Thompson said. “I want to publicly state that I know this isn’t what everybody wants, (and) it may not even be the end result. We’ve worked with teachers and staff, we’ve also worked with our county health department, trying to find best practices (for reopening). We know that some people won’t be able to come back at all due to health concerns and considerations and what they feel. That’s why we want to continue with the distance learning as a potential (option).”
As teachers return from summer break and look at the current plans more in-depth, Thompson said there may be some modifications to the model.
“It may change, but this is our best work for now and it is a sample of what it could look like,” she said. “It says ‘sample.’ I want everyone to know that it most likely will change. We are looking at what is feasible and even possible. The teachers and the staff have to feel comfortable, confident and they have to be protected, and that’s our job. That’s my main priority right now.”
DISTANCE LEARNING MODEL
Families opting for 100% online instruction have a choice between the Yuma Online Distance Academy (YODA) — which is an Arizona Online Instruction (AOI) program provided by the district — and Canvas, where instruction will be delivered by YUHSD teachers.
Through YODA, students are still considered a member of the district and may obtain a high school diploma through one of YUHSD’s six campuses upon successful completion of the program.
According to Thompson, students enrolled in a district-provided online program will still be eligible to play sports at the school in their attendance zone or the school where he or she was established eligibility before starting the online program.
If families elect an online learning option outside of YUHSD, they will need to contact the school they are currently enrolled in to withdraw from the district and obtain their transcripts in order to enroll in another district or program.
Students still have the option to concurrently receive college credit and credit toward their high school diploma through Arizona Western College’s online learning option. These courses will continue to be $25 per semester credit. Students are urged to contact their guidance counselor for more information on enrollment.
According to Thompson, students are able to switch between hybrid and online-only models if they find they’re not progressing with the one they initially chose and should contact their counselor as soon as possible upon making this discovery.
STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
According to Thompson, instruction for students with disabilities will continue as outlined in each student’s individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan wherever possible.
“We know that we are responsible for ensuring equitable learning opportunities, and we will do that” Thompson said.
To ensure students’ needs are being accommodated in their learning setting, whether it be physical or virtual or a combination of both, the district’s special education teachers will maintain frequent communication with families.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
English language learners (ELLs) will continue to work with their “mainstream” teachers in both in-person and distance learning environments.
For Level 1 ELLs, their teachers will continue providing language acquisition instruction until they reach a point where they can independently access and interact with the content of their own grade level.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
As the district continues working with public health officials on the state and local levels to develop a course of action that optimizes the health and safety of everyone when in-person learning commences, all staff, students and visitors will be required to wear a face mask at all times while on campus. Masks are currently being ordered for individuals who may be unable to provide their own.
Additionally, teachers will remain socially distanced throughout the day and will have cleaning supplies in each classroom.
Visitor access to campuses will be restricted to appointment-only for essential business and emergency situations.
Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost to all YUHSD students during the school year. When they aren’t on campus for in-person learning, students will be able to pick up their meals by providing their student ID number in the grab-and-go drive-thru lane at their respective school.
According to Thompson, returning students will have the same student ID number they had previously; incoming freshmen will hear from their campuses soon regarding that information. Incoming freshmen from District One will most likely have the same student ID number they had while enrolled in District One.
The presentation is viewable beginning at the 22:10 mark in the “YUHSD July 2020 Governing Board Meeting” video at facebook.com/YUHSD70.
The slideshow containing all of the information will be available by 4 p.m. Thursday at yumaunion.org.
“We’re looking at this as opportunities for Yuma Union High School District to really strengthen the way that we offer personalized learning and individualized instruction,” Thompson said. “We know this isn’t everyone’s choice and none of us ever thought this would come about, (but) we are continuing our work to offer the highest level of instruction that we can possibly offer.”