Some Barrington parents (16%) are opting for distance learning

Survey selections are not binding, say school officials

By Josh Bickford
Posted 8/12/20

About 16 percent of parents of Barrington students surveyed said they planned to keep their sons and daughters home this fall and employ distance learning instead of in-person education.

School …

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Some Barrington parents (16%) are opting for distance learning

Survey selections are not binding, say school officials

Posted

About 16 percent of parents of Barrington students surveyed said they planned to keep their sons and daughters home this fall and employ distance learning instead of in-person education.

School officials recently surveyed approximately 2,200 Barrington families regarding the start of upcoming school year and more than 1,600 responded.

Of those, 45.4 percent selected in-person learning for their children in grades pre-kindergarten through grade 6.

Another 35.8 percent selected the hybrid in-person learning model for their children in grades 7 through 12.

And another 3 percent of parents selected an accommodated distance learning model for their children in kindergarten through third grade.

The survey also shows that 15.8 percent of the parents who responded to the survey chose the district's distance learning model.

The survey selections were not binding — parents can opt for a different learning model at any time during the school year, officials said.

Barrington Superintendent of Schools Michael Messore said the fall school re-entry survey yielded one of the highest responses of any survey ever given to parents of local students.

Mr. Messore said he believes many parents would like their sons and daughters to experience some sort of in-person learning, considering that Barrington students have not been inside a public school classroom since Friday, March 13.

The superintendent said some parents' decisions may have also included their own employment situations.

"Some people have to go to work," he said.

Mr. Messore said he also hopes that parents feel a certain measure of comfort knowing that district officials will do everything possible to ensure the health and safety of students and staff members as they head back to class at the end of the month.

How it will work

A district-wide email detailed how the distance learning model will be used in conjunction with in-person learning.

"Home learning will not look like remote learning when the campus was closed," stated the email.

Students learning at home will receive daily lesson posts on their core courses as well as electives or "specials." Educators will record their live-streamed lessons, and those students using distance learning will have access to the lesson in real time using Zoom.

"During live instruction, the cameras will be facing the teacher only," stated the email. "Students will be made aware of opportunities to interact with their peers who are at home. Students at home will be able to interact with their teacher via Zoom and with their classmates who are physically present."

There will also be online office hours available to students. District officials said students employing distance learning will be required to have their computer cameras on; in the spring, a number of students "attended" class while turning off their cameras and microphones.

"Live, synchronous instruction can be the most impactful format for teaching new content or intervention," stated the email. "Transitioning to remote learning, however, is challenging for students and teachers due to the amount of continuous screen time required. This 'zoom fatigue' can be greatly reduced by restructuring lessons specifically designed for remote instruction by breaking lessons into 5 - 10 minute segments alternating between instructional strategies. This process is similar to the station rotation model that we use during in-person instruction and successfully works in both distance learning and hybrid models."

Have a question?

A number of parents emailed the school district with questions they had about the re-entry plan. The question topics ranged from mask-wearing to recess to how the schedule will work for middle and high school students.

Following are some of the questions, and the corresponding answers:

• Question: Will students who choose Distance Learning have a chance to do a meet and greet with their teachers before school starts?

• Answer: On August 31, grades K, 4, 6, and 9 will attend an in-person transition day. Students in the other grades will engage in a meet and greet with their teachers virtually during that day, as well.

• Q: For BHS, how many students are anticipated for hybrid? How many for all distance learning?

• A: The number of students will be close to 600 for hybrid for BHS. It will be lower for seniors, around 140. In addition to the students, there will be approximately 170 staff. The remainder will engage in distance. Approximately 10 percent of students at the high school have opted for full distance learning at this time.

• Q: Is there any discussion of making kindergarten enrollment optional?

• A: To date, RIDE has not shared plans to eliminate the Kindergarten requirement.

• Q: I had a question specifically about Kindergarten.  Are the students going to be able to interact and play with each other, are centers going to happen?

• A: We are developing games and center opportunities that include mask wearing and social distancing. We are also creating opportunities for outside play and learning. We have set up the classrooms with clear dividers on tables so the students can interact, while still providing safer spacing.

• Q: I would like to know what recess will be like?

• A: To allow for mask breaks, recess will include specific rules for distancing with and without a mask.

• Q: Older kids can understand why they need to wear masks - so why can't they go back full time?

• A: Due to the middle school housing close to 1,000 students and staff and the high school housing close to 1,300 students and staff, the size of our classrooms, and the inability to keep the students in stable pods or at a distance of 6 feet, we needed to decrease the number of individuals in the buildings.

• Q: Will there be a screening each day entering school?

• A: Students and staff will be screened at home and will complete attestation forms daily before entering the building.

• Q: Will my 1st grader be bringing his school issued laptop back and forth each day?

• A: Yes, unless you have a device at home that they will be using in the event of a school closure.

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