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School districts see impacts of remote learning

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | December 9, 2020 1:07 AM

The impacts of remote learning are taking shape in a number of ways across the country, including drops in student performance and lack of participation.

In North Idaho, where each school district is unique in instruction delivery and COVID response, district officials note that the world of pandemic learning is a little different for everyone.

LAKELAND

"Those who are online, some are thriving. There are kids who are online who are struggling just to participate in the online lessons," Lakeland Joint School District Superintendent Lisa Sexton said Tuesday. "That's probably our most challenging group of kiddos. The principals and the teachers in our online school are working with families and trying to overcome barriers with them."

In Lakeland — where more than 4,300 are enrolled and students have been physically in school since the beginning of the school year — Sexton said students are "definitely on track" with where they typically should be this time of year.

"Because we're in school five days a week, our teachers have been able to look at each student's fall math benchmark and identify areas where there was some unfinished work, and they've been very intentional about front-loading that," she said.

The fourth quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, of course, is when COVID closed schools and sent students home to participate in remote learning.

POST FALLS

The Post Falls School District, with an enrollment of nearly 6,000 students, has held school in the "orange" and "yellow" COVID risk categories that keep students in class in person four days and five days a week, respectively, with the first six weeks of school taking place in a two-day-a-week hybrid.

"We have noticed an increase in engagement and participation when kids are attending school in person more frequently," Post Falls Superintendent Dena Naccarato said.

She said the first semester in Post Falls doesn't end until Jan. 29, so semester grades are not available to share at this time.

COEUR d'ALENE

In the Coeur d'Alene School District, which serves close to 11,000 students, a blend of both remote and in-person instruction have been in place, with elementary students now physically in classrooms four days a week and secondary students in classrooms two days a week.

"Having this blended learning design is a significant difference between the level of student engagement we are seeing here and what districts in full remote learning may be experiencing," Coeur d'Alene School District communications director Scott Maben said. "We know we have some middle school and high school students who are not fully engaged in learning on the days they are not physically in the classroom, and we are concerned how this may contribute to a gap in the educational opportunities for students."

In some cases, he said, students have access to all of the resources they need for remote learning but are choosing to not be as engaged as they could be.

At the secondary level, Coeur d'Alene schools use Wednesdays as an "intervention day" for students who are falling behind and need extra support. Teachers schedule time to meet with students one-on-one or in small groups; teachers also work to improve communication with parents and streamline the use of Schoology, the district's remote learning platform, to make it more accessible and manageable for families.

Coeur d'Alene is seeing a higher share of students who have grades of D or F, although students have time to bring these grades up before the end of the first semester, Maben said.

Final semester one grades won't be reported until January or February, but this is where students in Coeur d'Alene's middle and high schools, excluding eSchool students, were at just before Thanksgiving:

Middle schools:

D - ranges from 7% to 9%

F - ranges from 9% to 15%

High schools:

D - ranges from 3.5% to 10%

F - ranges from 14% to 18%


This article has been updated.