In the 2020-2021 school year, a regular school day for students can feel anything but “regular” for students. Depending on what learning model is being used by the district (distance, hybrid or full in-person), different expectations have been set for where and how students will be taking part in their lessons. There are a few things, however, that can be held constant to foster a successful learning environment for students, regardless of their physical location.

When students attend in-person classes full time, they are used to the regular schedule of the school day. They know when they are arriving at the building, when each class takes place, when to expect to eat breakfast and/or lunch, when they will have work time and when they will be leaving the building. This routine is critical to the success of many students. When participating in lessons from home, however, this schedule is disrupted.

To promote excellence in education for all ISD 518 students, District 518 recommends students follow a regular schedule while learning in the distance learning model or on distance learning days during the hybrid model. This includes setting a regular time for bed the night before, waking up early enough to eat breakfast and following the schedule for a regular school day. The consistency provided by sticking to a routine can greatly benefit students as they navigate the distance learning environment.

Part of the regular schedule that should be emphasized is checking in daily with teaching staff. Interacting every day with teaching staff is a key component to success in distance learning. It is expected that students and teaching staff make a connection every day of the week. If a student will not be able to attend classes, distance or in-person, please contact their school and let them know of the expected absence. District 518 schools continue to take strict attendance during this time and communication is important in that process.

Creating an expectation of learning is a difficult task in a changing environment. To help students be productive, it is recommended that they are provided with a designated area within their home from which they will participate in distance learning lessons. Having an area where students have all of their materials and the space and comfort needed to learn can be an important part in achieving excellence while learning from home.

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One thing school offices across ISD 518 have noticed is that a small issue, technical or otherwise, can disrupt a lot of learning while students take part in distance learning. Remember that district offices are open and teachers are available to be contacted by phone or email during their normal hours. It is the desire of all ISD 518 staff that all students are successful in achieving an excellent education. If a student has an issue, from schedule questions to academic inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out. There will be support waiting for your student.

If a question or issue is technology-related, please utilize the Tech Helpline that was established for District 518. This incredible resource streamlines providing assistance to students who are experiencing issues with their iPads, programs or any other technology related to District 518 functions.

And last, but certainly not least, it is critical to remember that students showing symptoms of illness should not be in district facilities. Symptoms that may warrant a student staying home are fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, headache, diarrhea or vomiting. If a student shows any of these symptoms, please do not send that student to school and contact your health care provider for further instruction. It is only through the limitation of exposure that schools may continue to have students attend classes in person. Please do your part to preserve the health of our district community.

Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator.