Although Brookfield school Supt. Toby Gibson said he won’t know if the school had 100 percent student participation until the deadline for work packets to be turned in has passed, at least school officials reached every student while school was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“Between teacher communication, whether it be through Google Classroom or texts or calls, emails or Remind; each office reaching out, sending letters to families, packets to families that haven’t responded; if we missed somebody, I don’t know who it is,” Gibson said May 21.
Students with access to computers and the internet were able to get to school lessons online. Some families had internet access but no suitable devices; school officials provided 153 district-owned Chromebook computers, covering 166 students. For students without access to technology, officials provided paper copies.
promoBecause of the lack of preparation time school officials had to develop an alternative learning scheme, and out of respect for the non-school-related issues thrust upon families, school officials were more focused on reaching students than challenging them academically, Gibson said.
“Parents, families are dealing with the pandemic and loss of jobs and their focus has become needs as far as food, paying bills,” he said. “In order not to stress parents, guardians with schoolwork and helping students, I think we all, every district, has kind of lightened the load as far as the rigor of lessons, number of lessons per week that we post.”
Because of that, only students in high school received letter grades for the final grading period, he said. All other students were deemed to have either passed or failed a class.
“The issue with pass/fail at the high school level comes down to student transcripts as they transition from high school to college or technical centers, how that translates,” Gibson said.
With the reduced rigor, more students than is usual made the honor roll for the third grading period, and that likely is the case for the fourth, he said.
Summer school participation for students who need to make up credits or a class is likely to be the same as normal, about a dozen students, he said.
Although the state has not said when or if school will open normally in the fall, students will be asked to do more if distance learning remains at least part of the equation, he said. The district is using a federal CARES Act grant to purchase new Chromebooks, and every student in grades 3 to 12 will be issued a Chromebook for their own use for next year.
“Teachers and parents, students learning how to maneuver through Google Classroom or online period, was new,” Gibson said. “We’ve come a long way in a short period of time. Now, we have that background, that capability, and we’ll start off the year with teachers creating Google Classrooms so we don’t have to do that if we have to close again. I think a lot of teachers have kind of seen the benefits of how they can utilize this, even, face to face in a typical, normal setting. I think this is one of those things that has kind of changed education.”