At the Hollister School District’s meeting on July 28, the Board of Trustees received a report detailing the ways the district plans to support teachers and students for the unprecedented first day of school through distance learning starting Aug. 17.
For teachers, the district has provided grade-specific training on online programs including Constructing Meaning, Advancement Via Individual Determination, Benchmark Universe, Eureka Math, Google Classroom, Footsteps to Brilliance, and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support. For students, HSD plans to provide 3,500 laptops and over 1,000 hotspots for internet access.
Teachers will use Google Classroom to hand out and track assignments. HSD Superintendent Diego Ochoa pointed out visuals in the report that showed how teachers would view their class and be able to see who has or has not submitted work. Emphasizing the ease of use of Google Classroom, Ochoa said, “There’s a simple one-button process to create either assignments, quizzes or tests.”
The ability to manage school work from home will not be limited to just teachers; students will be able to track their work as well. Trustee Stephen Kain said parents will also have the same access to Google Classroom so they can monitor their children’s progress.
Trustee Elizabeth Martinez asked if there was a way for principals in the district to generate reports of separate classrooms to track whether the class is hitting or missing the mark. Ochoa said, “Yes they can do that and there is a way they can see upcoming assignments, so not only what they did and didn’t do, but what is still coming for them to do.”
A Spanish speaking parent, Nelcy Pulido Cruz, called in to ask, “Que va pasar con todos los niños, Les van aser un examen O en que tiempo les van aser un examen para saber en que nivel están?” (What is going to happen with all of the children? Will they be given an exam? Or at what point will the children be taking an exam to know what level they are in?)
Ochoa said that the plan for young children was to welcome them and have them feel comfortable with their teachers before conducting assessment tests. At the beginning of the third week of school, all students will be assessed in English and math.
The board meeting was different than usual in that there was someone translating the meeting from English to Spanish. Trustee Rob Bernosky said, “We always have had an interpreter at our meetings. Normally she is simultaneously translating but, in this meeting, held via teleconference, she had to do it asynchronously.”
A parent also called about enrollment in the Rigorous Independent Study Education (Rise) program offered by the district that requires students to work independently to complete assignments and check in with a teacher once a week. The parent said their child was already enrolled in Rise and asked if he could try distance learning and then go back to the independent study program.
Ochoa said that a certain number of teachers are hired to conduct the Rise program based on the amount of students enrolled in it. If a student leaves the program, the chances of being able to come back would be based on space and if there is a waitlist.
As the Hollister School District continues to plan for the upcoming school year, administrators are holding a series of town halls to hear from parents. The next town hall on July 31 will be livestreamed on the HSD YouTube channel.
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