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The lifeboat of distance learning

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With the Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) year drawing to a close — June 4 is the last official day — officials there are gearing up for what might be a mirror image situation in the fall while analyzing possible summer programs.

No one knows what will happen, but Roaring Fork Schools Public Information Officer Kelsy Been is optimistic that the district can handle what comes.

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She noted, “95 percent of our students now have internet access. Each student from grades four through 12 has already received a Chromebook laptop,“ with limited use of age-appropriate technology in earlier grades.
For some families, internet access has been an issue, especially for students living in Marble. Been referred to RFSD’s list of free or low cost internet options including hotspots at school parking lots. The district is also partnering with Aspen Ski Company to help figure out what is the best choice for each family.

Superintendent Rob Stein stated, “Distance learning is the lifeboat in which we have taken refuge to help us survive a storm — not the vehicle designed to carry us most efficiently or effectively where we want to go.”

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RFSD is presently working on a summer plan, Been reported, which will determine public access to indoor and outdoor facilities.
However, RFSD, Summit 54 and Summer Advantage USA have cancelled the Summer Advantage program scheduled for this summer. 

The Summer Advantage program served approximately 550 students and employs 110 staff members each summer at three elementary schools in the Roaring Fork School District.

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As Hill explained, “This was a difficult decision made in the interest of the health and safety of our students, staff, and community, but we appreciate that many families will be disappointed at the lack of programming this summer,” 

The recent RFSD survey on distance learning had 2,200 responses from 795 students, 1134 parents and 242 staff members.The RFSD student enrollment is 5637.

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Many respondents gave a thumbs up to communications, resources for lessons and teachers, easy to understand expectations and well-organized lessons.

But, concerns were raised about how office hours are structured and to what degree teachers are following limits on daily work per class by grade level. These are 15 to 20 minutes in elementary school, 20 to 25 minutes in middle school and 30 minutes in high school. Also, the survey showed the parents need more bilingual resources to support students. 

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The survey also had teachers reporting  61 to 80 percent of students have completed school work. Also, 41 percent of parents felt distance learning lessons were quite or extremely helpful, and 28 percent more reported that lessons were somewhat helpful.

RFSD has implemented the Crew program, which brings each student a connection to a teacher, and focuses on character skills (Habits of a Scholar), social-emotional learning and academic goal-setting. Plus, Crew fosters risk, fun, creativity and well-being in a safe environment.
Each Crew team has a leader who understands students’ ability to achieve socially and academically and serves as a point of contact with families, staff members and other supports.

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With Crew, Been explained, “We’re providing a home room environment which students are used to.”

As described online, Crew is emphasizing “Habits of a Scholar,” which helps students solve the problems affecting their lives while teaching the habits necessary for healthy relationships and happy lives. 

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The district has brought on prevention specialists to counter serious bullying issues. Since 2017, RFSD has implemented the “Second Step Program” unanimously chosen by school counselors. This undertaking Is a research-based social-emotional learning curriculum that includes bullying prevention lessons for PreK to eighth-grade students. 

In addition, RFSD is developing its Extended School Year (ESY) services for students with disabilities. ESY, will provide special education and related services beyond the normal school year in accordance with the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and at no cost to the parents. 

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”We are still considering all options — in-person and distance learning for this summer,” Been commented.

Another resource now in place is the Roaring Fork School Health Centers offer of limited services during the current school closure through telehealth (phone calls or video chat). This includes sick telehealth visits, prescription refills and referrals to other school-based or community services. Call 384-6054 for an appointment. 

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