“As we look to the future, we recognized that it’s one of uncertainty,” RRISD Superintendent Steve Flores said. “But that doesn’t mean we are waiting to see what our future holds.”
Flores and his staff addressed the RRISD board of trustees at a special called meeting April 30. The superintendent said any number of options are on the table for the fall, ranging from traditional classroom learning to virtual platforms to a blended model of in-person and online options.
“We are actively scenario-planning and preparing for a variety of circumstances including the continuation of virtual learning or a hybrid of in-the-classroom and at-home learning,” Flores said.
Ryan Smith, one of RRISD’s executive directors of teaching and learning, presented a timeline of the district’s online education efforts to the board.
The first phase, Smith said, launched March 23 with the district’s At-Home Learning Hub. At this time, staff distributed paper packets to students who did not have reliable internet access or a device with which to access virtual learning, Smith said.
On April 6, RRISD initiated the second phase of e-learning efforts. In this period, which is ongoing at this time, teachers are facilitating weekly, asynchronous at-home learning. This form of learning allows flexibility for students to complete the lessons on their own time rather than at set, scheduled video conference intervals, Smith said.
While asynchronous virtual learning continues, as of April 27, RRISD opened a Google Meet platform for live chats between teachers and students.
The next phase of RRISD’s e-learning plan will launch June 1, Smith said, when the district will launch an optional eight-week summer program.
“The purpose is to continue learning and engagement throughout the summer,” Smith said.
The summer program, which will be facilitated by RRISD teachers, will be available to all students.
“We’re building a sophisticated platform that will allow us to build a robust online presence for in-depth, meaningful learning of new content,” Flores said.
As the district looks beyond the summer to the start of the 2020-21 academic year, staff and administration are preparing for multiple possible realities, given the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 over the coming months.
“We continue to plan for the future, including scenarios for what next school year may look like, though we don’t yet know exactly what that will look like,” Flores said.