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An Update from Mark Steele on Remote Learning
An Update from Mark Steele on Remote Learning
Posted on 05/12/2020
May 12, 2020

Indian River School District Parents and Staff:


On April 24, 2020, we received information from Governor John Carney that students would not be returning to schools for the remainder of this school year.  Since this time, our team of administrators and staff have been working on the final stages of our third and final phase of our district’s remote instructional plan.  Up to this point in time, instruction was designed as a review of previously learned material.  With the Governor’s most recent decision, we will be changing the direction of our remote instruction plan from review to the introduction of new material.  Our instructional team has developed a comprehensive plan that will enable teachers to deliver instructional activities targeting the necessary standards that the students need to master before moving into the next grade level.  

We are set to begin the final phase of our remote instructional plan on Monday, May 18, 2020.  Your child’s teacher(s) have been developing lesson activities that will strengthen and enhance student understanding of the new curriculum content.  It is more important than ever that parents help with our remote education plan by planning time for your child to complete activities on-line or by picking up the packet of hardcopy materials at your child’s school.  The District has developed the resources below to assist you with helping with your child’s remote learning experience:

• Internet availability has been expanded so parents and students can access free ”Drive-Up” internet access at Phillip Showell Elementary, Sussex Central High School, Indian River High School and Georgetown Elementary from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. For details and instructions, go to irsd.net/access and click on the “Drive-Up WiFi” link at the top of the page. This will take users to a special page with instructions on how to access the school wireless networks.
• All district schools will prepare hardcopy materials for those students who do not have internet access.  Please contact your child’s school to receive information how to obtain the packets.  High schools will prepare materials based on individual courses.  Again, we ask that you contact your child’s school to obtain the hardcopy materials.  
• All district teachers have developed “Office Hours” so they can reach students and parents by phone to offer instructional support or help answer parent questions about material.  Our support staff will also be in contact with students and parents to offer instructional and emotional support.
• Teachers and support staff will be designing intervention activities to help students who need additional instructional support.

The final remote instructional phase is designed to utilize grading to enable staff to access student understanding and participation in the lesson activities.  Introducing the concept of grading in remote instruction is going to be new for everyone.  Our instructional team has devised a grading plan that will require staff to grade one activity each week for the final five weeks of school.  It is extremely important that students participate in the final remote phase to be better prepared for the next grade level.  To entice student participation, the instructional team has developed a grading system that will enhance student averages if the student participates in the final instructional phase.  We will be asking the Board for a waiver from our district policy (IKA – Grading) at Monday night’s monthly Board meeting.  We will be providing a more detailed look at how this enhanced grading policy will work once the Board approves the waiver.

I want to close by saying to everyone that I am sorry for the way this school year has ended.  It is certainly no one’s fault.  We had to face an enemy in the COVID-19 virus that forced us to change and deliver instruction in a remote setting.  This has created a significant challenge for schools and families.  I know that teachers, administrators and support staff have been under a huge amount of stress to make our instructional plan successful.  I also know that the stress level placed on parents and students has been unsurmountable.  We have five weeks remaining in the school year to address the new standards needed for your child to move to the next grade level.  Together we can make this happen.

Thanks,

Mark L. Steele
Superintendent