Open vision bar

Board of Education approves school calendar and endorses instructional plans to close the COVID learning gap

New community learning center at Monticello Elementary

      The Wayne County School Board met February 23, approving the school calendar for the 2021-22 school year. Opening day for the next school year will be August 18, and the first day for students will be August 19.

      The calendar includes a traditional fall break, Christmas break and spring break. The final day for students would be May 23, 2022.

      The return to in-person instruction for students this school year was also discussed during the meeting. With COVID numbers on the decline, district officials have opted to move ahead with plans for four-day a week instruction, beginning March 1. Fridays will be used for small group instruction for students who may be struggling.

       Superintendent Wayne Roberts noted that the plan is to get back to five day a week in-person instruction when it is possible. The district is waiting to see if the students that chose full time virtual instruction will join the four-day-a-week in-person learning, so teachers can plan accordingly. Teachers use Fridays to prepare videos and update their Google Classrooms to meet the needs of virtual students, besides delivering targeted instruction to struggling students who have been coming in on a part time basis.

       Chief Academic Officer Brian Dishman presented a plan on how the district plans to keep students on track and catch up any lost learning that has occurred during the pandemic. He quoted Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

       Dishman looked back at the opportunities that were seized by the district during this difficult and isolated pandemic period which included: ensuring students were fed, developed a system for regular student wellness checks, transformed instruction since teachers had to rely solely on digital learning, purchased enough chromebooks to be 1:1, K-12, and removed barriers to internet access for students.

         Even though it appears the back-end of the pandemic is arriving, a final difficulty the district faces (or perhaps opportunity to help students) is that many students have experienced learning loss during remote instruction. Even though teachers have worked tirelessly, remote learning is not a perfect fit for many students. Especially, younger students that require an adult sitting near them to help manage their computerized learning. The reality has been that many families have several children and it is difficult to meet all their individual learning needs from home, simultaneously.

      Therefore, the district has created an Activity Recovery Plan. The 18-month timeline began in January, when administrators set minimum criteria for promotion. The return to in-person red and white groups began January 25. On March 1, students return to four-days per week in-person learning with even more precautions taken to keep students social distanced. For instance, some students will find their work tables eliminated in their classroom and they will now have their own desks.

       Extended School Services will begin March 9th where students at Walker Early Learning Center and Wayne County High School will have before school tutoring opportunities. All the other schools will provide after school tutoring with transportation provided.

       In addition, beginning Tuesday, March 9th, 21st Century will be able to offer transportation home on Tuesdays and Thursdays after homework and tutoring, thanks to Wayne County Schools Transportation Department. That program is excited and thankful to offer transportation home to their 21st Century participants on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Just complete a registration form and let them know you would like transportation for your child at least two of the four days the program runs after school. Questions? Contact Ms. Kidd at 348-6691.

       Summer School will be held from June 7-July 2. A Jump Start Program is set for August 9-13. The 21st Century Summer Camp will also provide enrichment opportunities, as usual.

     Many teachers have already stepped up to the plate to work with their students during these extra time slots. The plan calls for the recruitment and hiring of additional staff to reduce class sizes and scaffold supports to students this spring and summer. Administrators will also be securing instructional resources needed to enhance student learning during these unique times.

       This summer the timeline calls for a plan for Virtual Learning 2.0, and provide professional learning for new and existing staff.

        A relaunch for the 2021-22 school year will be planned for in-person and virtual learning 2.0. The upcoming year will include ongoing support through after school programs, as well as summer school 2022.

         Educators in K-5 will offer the full curriculum, with critical skills taking priority in centers, small groups, and when time is a limiting factor.

          Each of the elementary principals shared their specific plans to close the COVID learning gap. They know how many of their students are not on target to meet the minimum exit criteria. They have strategies in place where they will concentrate their efforts. Phonemic awareness, phonics and guided reading, and utilizing differentiated math lessons that target critical skills are a sample of teachers’ to do lists in K-5th grades. The educators are thankful to have their students returning and are up for the challenge to prioritize their instruction.

          Next month, Dishman will focus on middle and high school level plans that will benefit older students.  

            On another positive note, the board toured the renovation work that is almost completed at Monticello Elementary. Besides a refresh of the exterior of the façade, the old 1950’s hallway and classrooms have been remodeled. A community area at the front of the hallway linked to the courtyard is very inviting and can be a reading nook area for elementary students or used for special projects. The former lockers in the classrooms have been changed to modern storage cubbies, with focal walls painted in attractive colors. The bathrooms have also been completely updated.

             Students will be excited to see the improvements.

Tour of Renovations at Monticello Elementary

Tim Geegan, Alliance Construction Exec. Vice-President, shared construction information with the board

Tim Geegan, Alliance Construction Exec. Vice-President, shared construction information with the board members in the new open community area.

Community learning center in open area that leads to the courtyard

Students will be able to use the new Community learning center that leads to the outdoor courtyard.

Chris Phillips and Jessica Phillips

DECO Architects representatives Chris Phillips and Jessica Phillips offered information during the tour.

Geegan answered questions from the board members

Geegan answered questions from the board members regarding the construction of the project.

Board members view classrooms

Board members view classrooms.The superintendent leads the tour to show them the upgrades.

Asst. Principal Mitchell Gregory demonstrated how the desks can be moved together once social distancing is no longer necessary. 

Asst. Principal Mitchell Gregory demonstrated how the desks can be moved together once social distancing is no longer necessary.

New modern storage units have replaced the old lockers.

New modern storage units have been installed in the classrooms to replace the old lockers.

DECO Architect employees discussed decorating options for the hallway which has been updated.

DECO Architect employees discussed decorating options for the hallway which has been updated.

February 2021 Board of Education Meeting 

DPP Stewart York explained the calendar committee's findings

DPP Stewart York explained the calendar committee's findings.

Chief Academic Officer Brian Dishman shared instructional plans

Chief Academic Officer Brian Dishman shared a digital instructional recovery plan for elementary grades. Next month he will discuss the middle and high school level strategies since they are completely different from elementary.

Walker Early Learning Principal Angela Ballinger

Walker Early Learning Principal Angela Ballinger shared her passion for reading and how phonemic awareness skills provide the youngest students  with the necessary listening skills to become aware that speech is made up of sounds and these sounds make words, syllables and phonemes. She said phonics instruction must be taught systematically and explicitly. The Reading Horizons program her teachers' use ensures children are provided phonics instruction in this way.

Bell Elementary Principal Derrick Harris

Bell Elementary Principal Derrick Harris explained that Phonics will be taught daily to his first and second graders within whole group using their systematic Reading Horizons Phonics program. Guided Reading groups will be taught daily based on the students Instructional Reading level using Leveled Readers and Decodable Readers. Formative assessments will be implemented throughout in-person days in place of an actual "assessment day".  

Monticello Elementary Principal Virginia Cares

Monticello Elementary Principal Virginia Cares said the majority of third-fifth grade students who are struggling in math have not mastered basic foundational skills and lack conceptual understanding. These students need additional support to understand inquiry-based tasks and hands-on manipulatives to make connections to meaning, understanding, and applications that require those procedures. All of her math teachers will utilize differentiated math lessons that target critical skills during math group work, so students have multiple opportunities to "demonstrate learning".

 





Back to School News       Print