District gears up for first day of school
The anticipation of the first day of school is brewing as teachers headed back to school this week to get ready for the new instruction year, as well as students beginning to attend Open Houses.
“I’m really excited about the first day of school,” Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins said, adding that his first day will be similar to those in past years.
He will start out at transportation saying farewell to the buses before heading to Gateway High School.
“It’s the first day ever for students,” he said of the new high school opening this school year.
After leaving Gateway High School he will tour the county making sure the first day of school is successful.
Adkins said things were going really well last week. Teachers are excited to get back to school and begin working on schedules and lesson plans, he said. One thing they have noticed is teachers are getting ready in a different way, as the numbers of students in each instruction model continue to fluctuate.
Adkins said the vast majority of teachers know where they stand as to which model they will use to teach this year — face-to-face, Lee Home Connect or Lee Virtual School.
As of Thursday morning there are 41,797 students enrolled to do face-to-face in-school instruction and 33,425 students enrolled in Lee Home Connect. There are now 8,700 students enrolled in Lee Virtual School, which is down from 13,000. The families of 3,000 students have opted to home school.
“They will be different today, but not by a lot,” Adkins said of the numbers continuing to fluctuate between Lee Home Connect and Lee Virtual School.
There has been a huge effort on the part of staff which has been contacting the families of students who did not choose a model. Although there are some students the district has not been able to contact, possibly due to some moving out of the district, Adkins said an overwhelming majority have selected which instructional model they prefer for this school year.
The biggest difference between Lee Home Connect and Lee Virtual School is students have to log-in at the start of school and be connected throughout the day while working with a teacher. The teacher is literally teaching the class in front of the student, he said.
“If you want a distance op-tion as a parent and know your kid needs a lot of structure to be motivated, Lee Home Connect is the best option there,” Adkins said.
Lee Virtual School, on the other hand, is a different environment with students having to be more self-paced and motivated.
This week, students are beginning to participate in Open House, which is quite different than previous years. Kindergarten students have the opportunity to do a face-to-face Open House, allowing them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the classroom, as well knowing their way around from the front of the school where they will be dropped off.
Older students will do either a drive thru or virtual Open House. Adkins said the drive thru Open House gives students an opportunity to receive their material lists and schedule, if available.
A concern of the district, and that of families, is what kind of impact distance learning has had on the achievement gap. Adkins said they are making a special effort to encourage students who are fragile — may have a lower achievement level, an IEP, or have a language challenge to participate in the face-to-face model.
In addition, during the first week of school, which starts Aug. 31, students will be assessed. The last time students were assessed was during the third quarter of the last school year. Once the assessments are completed, students will receive an individualized plan to get them to where they need to be.
There has also been funding invested for English Language Learners to help with achievement gaps.
For those students that are doing a virtual model, they, too, will be assessed using adaptive technology with the district’s educational platform. Adkins said such programs as iReady allows teachers to assess students in math and reading. He said the program provides an adjustment to individual learning needs, which can be addressed remotely.