DECS DISTANCE LEARNING PLAN

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has outlined a set of expectations that will constitute a school district’s or charter school’s plan for providing distance learning options to all students from Monday, March 30 through our last day of school, Thursday, June 4, 2020 per Governor Walz’s executive order.  A broad outline of how Duluth Public Schools Academy dba Duluth Edison Charter Schools are meeting this requirement is detailed below, and can be downloaded HERE.

May 4, 2020 Addition
Our plan addressing communication pathways with student families, community input on student and family needs and other outreach opportunities.

DECS staff know that at the heart of students’ success are the relationships and connections between students and their teachers and support staff. To that end, our priority has been to reach every student and his/her family and, as needed, differentiate the instruction and support being offered to the student.
 
General communication includes emails to families, Facebook, and our website. Teachers utilize SeeSaw, Google Classroom, phone calls (often via Google Voice), Go Guardian and Schoology and are communicating grades via Infinite Campus and Schoology. Administrators and teachers contact information has been shared with families and they have been encouraged to reach out if needs or questions. At the start of distance learning we distributed over 450 chromebooks to families that needed them to access learning. . Packets are delivered weekly per family requests.
 
Our academy principals are working with staff and tracking daily connections with students. When this is not occurring we are utilizing social workers, counselors, cultural liaisons or other staff who may be able to connect with the families. Our first focus is their basic needs and then we move on to what they can handle academically.
 
Our grades 6-8 principal has requested student input on a number of questions and concerns utilizing that as plans for 8th grade graduation and other end of year activities are underway. The North Star and Raleigh K-5 staff is also working with students and families to plan virtual ways to celebrate some of our longstanding end of year traditions.
 
Our mission of academic and personal excellence for every student continues to be our focus as we do our best to connect with families and students each day.

 

Part A: Instructional Expectations

General Requirements:
Provide a general summary of the teaching and learning structures and platforms to be utilized during distance learning.  Include how the school ensures that all students will have equal access to the learning and required materials to successfully receive credit in their class, including technology.  Include voluntary prekindergarten or school readiness plus programs, if applicable.
  • K-5 instruction will happen for families through one of the three models identified below:
    • Model 1:  For students/families who will be able to access technology and distance learning during the day, we have a daily schedule of learning opportunities.  Students can engage with the various activities at the posted times. This schedule represents a combination of teacher prepared videos, resources, lessons and activities that students could access at any time, and also the opportunity to interact with their teacher in live video teaching sessions.
    • Model 2:  If students/families are not able to participate in distance learning throughout the day, lessons, assignments, and activities will be posted to classroom’s distance learning platforms, and students will be able to access these at any time.  Teachers will be able to correspond with students regarding assignments and progress through electronic communication.
    • Model 3:  For students/families who do not have access to our digital tools/platforms, teachers are working to develop plans for getting students similar lessons, assignments, and activities that do not require a device or internet connection.
    • Grades 5-8 Instruction-We are using Google Classroom and Schoology. For students that do not have internet access at home, but do have a cell phone and the ability to print they are able to print materials. For those without internet access, the plan is to make paper packets.
If you are using an online learning system, outline the steps the school will take to ensure it can effectively support the district’s unique learning and teaching needs.
  • K-5 Online Learning Systems consist of Seesaw, Google Classroom and ZOOM.  All teachers and support staff will be involved as co teachers within each platform.
  • Grades 6-8 -We currently use Google Classroom and Schoology. We have additionally set up classes for our support staff and made them co-teachers in these platforms.
  • We surveyed all of our families related to their technology needs.  Our grades 6-8 students already have school provided chromebooks and, for the homes without internet access, alternate plans are being put in place.  We have distributed chromebooks to our K-5 families who indicated they need them. Those without internet access are utilizing models 2 or 3 at this time.
How will student learning and progress be: measured, monitored, and communicated to students and parent(s)/guardian(s)?
  • K-5:  Assignments will be posted in Seesaw and Google Classroom. Staff will use multiple measures including (daily feedback, grading assignments/quizzes, participation/ Grades will be posted in Infinite Campus.  Teachers will communicate with students via small group and individualized instruction. Parents will receive weekly communication from classroom teachers.
  • Grades 6-8 -We have assignments posted in Google Classroom and Schoology. In addition Schoology sends automated weekly updates about work completed to families (previous to distance learning). Grades are being posted in IC, just like they were prior to distance learning.
Describe programming options for school nurses, school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, paraprofessionals, other school specialists and cultural liaisons.
  • Paraprofessionals – We will assign paraprofessionals to support special education students within the distance learning platforms being utilized at each building , at each academy and in each federal setting level.  Paraprofessionals will also be re-assigned to other special education functions needed in this distance learning environment, eg. amending IEPs and scheduling IEP meetings. Per March 26, 2020 MDE directives paraprofessionals will also be used to staff our emergency providers childcare programming and meal distribution program.  Other paraprofessionals will be assigned general education assistance if special ed assignments are not available.
  • School Social Workers and Counselors will support students within the distance learning frameworks in each academy.  Dependent on family internet access, they will communicate and provide services via phone, email, Google Classroom/Schoology and Zoom.  The immediate focus of services will be connecting with students and families, assessing immediate personal and educational needs, facilitating resource procurement, problem solving and screening potential crisis situations.  Goal-based service sessions per student service plans to follow. School Social Worker and Counselor contact information and local community resources have been posted prominently on the school website.
  • Cultural Liaisons will reach out to students and families via phone and email, monitor student participation in educational programming, and facilitate problem solving.
  • Our school nurse and health assistants are monitoring CDC and Minnesota Department of Health information related to COVID-19 and our schools’ response.  They are also providing information to, and staying in touch with families related to student health needs.
All schools and districts that are required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to consult with Tribal Nations must also collaborate with the Tribal Nations Education Committee (TNEC) members regarding the formulation of their distance learning plans.  If applicable,
  • NA
Outline how attendance of students and staff will be tracked and how these expectations will be communicated to students, parents, and staff.  Note: the school board attendance policy must accommodate the implementation of this distance learning model for attendance. If not, the board should consider revising the policy.
  • K-5:  Teachers will track attendance utilizing Infinite Campus. The Principal/Academy Director will monitor attendance via Infinite Campus and teacher communication.
  • Grades 6-8:  Courses have tasks for each day that they would normally have had class to complete. For those using paper, we will have to adjust attendance when the packets are returned to school or when a teacher has made contact with that student.
  • Our attendance coordinators in each building, along with our Principals will monitor student attendance and we will reach out to families whose students are not participating to determine how we can assist.
  • Staff attendance will be monitored in the following ways:  Staff are to work out a daily schedule that meets their supervisor’s approval and then adhere to that schedule.  Staff are to report to a building administrator by 7 a.m. if they, or someone they need to care for, is sick and they can’t work.
Outline the school’s plan for training staff, students and parents to ensure that your distance learning program can effectively be implemented.
  • Staff:  A team of point people for each grade level and subject area was created.  This group has met with the principal/academy director to train, plan and implement distance learning,  A shared folder has been created for all staff members to access and utilize.
  • Student Support Personnel:  The Student Support Services Manager has been working with School Social Workers, School Counselors, Student Support Specialists and Cultural Liaisons to develop service delivery plans within our distance learning frameworks.  The SSSM will monitor service delivery and assist with problem solving as needed.
  • A parent/caregiver portal is available on the school’s website that provides training information and videos.  A tech help line and tech help email is available to families.
Describe how your distance learning model is secure and will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information.
  • Our distance learning model is utilizing existing DECS managed applications and resources that are CIPA & FERPA compliant. In addition, we have several layers of security on these systems, including our Google Apps for Education Suite (GSUITES) and an advanced monitoring system on all student accounts (GOGUARDIAN) that monitors all student internet activity whether at school or off-site on home or remote internet connections. Goguardian will alert teachers and staff to any unsafe or questionable student browsing activity.  Students and staff have also received ongoing training throughout the year on internet safety.
Special Education Requirements: State and Federal law requires a school to continue to meet the all requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 
Describe how the school will ensure supports identified on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan are provided.
  • 504 Plans – 504 plans are within Infinite Campus for all teachers to access.  District/School 504 Coordinators will review all plans to ensure accommodations are implemented as stated.
  • Special Education – Within the distance learning plans for general education, special education will provide comparable services.  For example, special education teachers who were co-teaching will continue to do so within the distance learning platforms. Special education alternative classes will continue and will be provided for the same amount of time as general education classes.  Level 3 programs will provide distance learning opportunities that are comparable to general education when appropriate and individualized plans will be implemented for students who cannot participate in this manner. Related service providers will continue to provide services within these above models.  Pull-out services will begin following the first week of implementation. These services will be provided via the best platform for individual students. Accommodations appropriate to the distance learning model will be provided.
Outline the school’s process for communicating with parents and guardians regarding their child’s services, which should include discussion regarding amending IEP’s to address how best to meet the student’s needs in a flexible learning model. This includes direct specialized instruction, related services, and accommodations
  • Case managers will reach out to all caregivers by phone by 4/2/20 to describe how special education services will be provided.  Following this, changes to IEPs will be provided in writing either via email or mail depending on parent preference. We will be following guidance from Indigo Education regarding all due process requirements.
Describe the school’s protocol to communicate with administration and staff to prepare and support them in meeting the needs of students eligible for special education, child find activities, evaluations/reevaluations, and IEP implementation.
  • The Special Education Coordinator and Assistant Coordinators will be responsible for keeping administration and staff informed of processes in place to meet the needs of special education students.  Zoom meetings will be occurring on a regular basis of at least weekly. Child Find activities will continue including referrals to Special Education Evaluation teams from school-based teams and parents. The Special Education Evaluation teams will meet on a weekly basis to discuss results of all evaluations.  Beginning the week of 3/30/20, IEP meetings will be scheduled utilizing caregivers’ preferred communication method.
English Language Learner Requirements
Describe how the school will fulfill Individual Learning Plans for English Language Learners.  Include possible scaffolding methods available to support students in a distance learning environment.
  • English Language Learner staff will be fulfilling  the Learning plans for English Language Learners through 1 on 1 sessions with each student. They will continue to work on the standards and goals set previously.  Currently DPSA has 2 students receiving ELL services.
Describe the school’s plan for communicating with families that do not use English as a primary language.
  • English Language Learner staff will be communicating with families.  At this time the use of interpreters is not needed.
Protections for Students Experiencing Homelessness or Housing Instability
Specify how the school will satisfy the Federal requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, to support homelessness students throughout this crisis and promote their full participation in their education throughout the duration of the distance learning period.
  • Our homeless liaison will work with the teachers and support staff for our homeless students and do all we can to ensure that they are able to participate in our program.  We’ll determine the most appropriate way to communicate with families.
How will the school monitor participation and engagement of homeless students in distance learning (e.g., including both attendance and performance.); potentially resulting in your school needing to change its staffing/support)?
  • Participation and engagement of homeless students will be measured as for all students but monitored by the assigned support staff member in collaboration with our homeless liaison.
How will the school monitor the efficacy of distance learning plans and approaches for all students including homeless students, and be prepared to consider alternatives or additional support needs as part of that review.
  • The efficacy of distance learning plans and approaches for homeless students will be monitored by the assigned support staff member in collaboration with our homeless liaison.
Describe how the school will maintain regular contact with local public health departments, county or Tribal human services departments, and Continuum of Care planning bodies on ongoing or emerging needs and to connect to resources that can assist students and families experiencing homelessness.
  • Our school nurse is our contact person with the local public health department and in daily communication with them.  She informs other school staff on a need to know basis.


Part B: Supplemental Services Expectations

Describe the school’s plan for providing meals to all children who need them.  Include: how families access meals, staffing plan for preparing and distributing meals, and method of distribution that aligns with public health guidelines.
  • The school has communicated with all of our families related to their need for such meals.  Those who have indicated they would like to receive them are able to pick the meals up on site.  If they do not have transportation available a delivery service is available.
Describe the school’s plan for providing childcare for the elementary children of Tier 1 emergency and healthcare workers.  Include: how families access childcare, a plan for staffing childcare, transportation of childcare participants, if you plan to include children of Tier 2 workers, and plans for following the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health’s guidelines.
  • We are providing childcare for Tier 1 emergency and healthcare workers from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.  A survey was sent to all of our families asking if they qualified and needed this care. We are staffing the program in collaboration with the YMCA, utilizing their staff for the wrap around hours and our paraprofessional staff and other staff for the school hour care.  Transportation is available via our bus company if needed. All CDC and MDH protocol is being followed. Our school nurse keeps us aware of any additional changes or guidance on a daily basis and it is implemented within 24 hours.
How will the school maintain an awareness of, and be prepared to cope with, the potential impact these closures will have on the mental health and wellbeing of students, staff, and families.
  • Information about coping with stress from the CDC and MN Dept. of Health, community mental health resources, and School Social Worker and Counselor contact information have been posted on the website.  Teachers and other school personnel may refer families to the School Social Workers and Counselors for support, crisis intervention and resources.
  • School Social Workers and Counselors are working to connect with the students and families they work with to assess personal needs, assist with problem solving, facilitate resource procurement, and screen potential crisis situations.  They will continue to monitor student and family status through service delivery during the distance learning period.
  • The School Social Workers and Counselors, in consultation with the Administrative Team, will review Crisis Management Procedures and detail specific protocols for use within our distance learning model.
Describe how the school will provide information related to ‘how to talk to children’ about what is happening to change their school day.
  • Our student support services staff will provide written information to our families that will be shared in an email to all families about “how to talk to children” as well as posted on our web site.