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Distance Learning

Distance Learning Framework
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It is the clear intent that the District resume face-to-face instruction as soon as possible. Once it is clear that El Dorado County will not soon be assigned to the State of California COVID Monitoring List and when El Dorado County Office of Public Health declares they have the sufficient capacity to partner with school districts on the California Department of Public Health staff and student testing requirements, our district will resume face-to-face instruction. In the meantime, the District will engage students and families through Distance Learning.
Distance Learning means instruction in which the student and instructor are in different locations. This may include interacting through the use of a computer and communications technology, as well as delivering instruction and check-in time with the teacher. Distance learning may include video or audio instruction in which the primary mode of communication between the student and instructor is online interaction, instructional television, video, telecourses, or other instruction that relies on computer or communications technology. It may also include the use of print materials incorporating assignments that are the subject of written or oral feedback.
The Districts acknowledges, up front, that Distance Learning is rarely, if ever, of a quality equivalent to classroom, face-to-face instruction. Nevertheless, the BOMUSD is committed to providing high-quality, academically rigorous, and engaging instruction via Distance Learning. To be clear, Distance Learning to start the 2020-2021 school year will not be the same as what the District was forced to implement due to school closure in the Spring of 2020. Lessons have been learned and improvements are being made.

Teaching and learning are not negotiable.

While the District was able to quickly pivot to Distance Learning in the Spring of 2020, these were largely emergency, or “triage” efforts. Continuity and remediation were necessarily the focus. Following the rapid closure and pivot to Distance Learning in the spring of 2020, the State of California has set new standards:
  • Daily Live Interaction Required - Teachers will have to connect with their students each school day through online instruction and/or phone check-ups.
  • Taking Student Attendance - Schools must take students' attendance and participation under distance learning, or risk losing state funding. Students who don't participate will factor into schools' chronic absenteeism figures.
  • Minimum Instruction - Students must receive a minimum amount of daily instruction that can be met by a combination of teacher instruction and "time value" of work assigned: 3 hours per day for kindergartners, 3 hours, 50 minutes for grades 1-3, 4 hours for grades 4-12.
  • Serving Students in Need - Schools have to provide the "accommodations necessary" to serve students with special needs.
  • No Set Requirements for Live Instruction - The state does not mandate a minimum daily amount of synchronous, or live, instruction, though experts strongly suggest it be a part of students' distance learning.
  • Preventing Disengagement - Schools must form a plan for re-engaging students who are absent from distance learning for more than three school days a week.
  • Checking Families’ Connectivity - Schools will have to ensure that students and families have the devices and connectivity necessary to participate in distance learning, or make accommodations if they do not.
  • Weekly Engagement Records - An additional data requirement, schools must keep "weekly engagement records" noting how much synchronous or asynchronous instruction a student has received.
  • Replacing Accountability Plans - Schools will team up with parents and teachers to create a "learning continuity and attendance plan" by Sept. 30, replacing schools' usual annual planning documents.
It is the responsibility of Local Education Agencies (LEA) to implement these broad standards, locally. Broadly speaking, Distance Learning in the Black Oak Mine Unified School District for the start of the 2020-2021 school year must:
  • Recognize, due to the loss of instructional time in the spring, that some remediation is required;
  • Teach new material through direct, synchronous instruction;
  • Adhere to schedules and calendars that are substantially similar to the traditional school day/calendar;
  • Maintain frequent and direct communication with students and families;
  • Provide timely and meaningful feedback on student progress and achievement;
  • Address the individualized learning needs of all students; especially, those identified as “at-risk”;
  • Provide the tools necessary for home connectivity;
  • Provide hybrid, small-group instruction as it is safe and necessary to do so;
  • Employ a myriad of synchronous and asynchronous instructional practices and resources;
  • Allow for the efficient distribution of devices and instructional materials to students and families;
  • Address the social and emotional needs of students.
As a part of the planning, the District is shifting 4 of the Staff Development Days to the start of the school year. This will allow for training and for teachers to prepare for online instruction. While training will be provided on Google Classroom and associated software, significant portions of time will be protected such that teachers have time to “convert” face-to-face instruction to online.
The shift to Distance Learning represents a fundamental change in working conditions for staff. An essential part of any successful plan is to ensure that staff are in support. As such, the District has already scheduled meetings with employee groups to agree on particulars. There is no doubt that parties agree, in concept, to the above principles and that negotiation of the execution will happen quickly and in full partnership.
While there are several pieces to be negotiated, California Education Code makes clear specific requirements for the 2020-2021 school year. Senate Bill 98 provides significant changes in instructional minute requirements:
43501. For the 2020–21 school year, the minimum school day for a local educational agency is as follows:
  • 180 instructional minutes in kindergarten.
  • 230 instructional minutes in grades 1 to 3, inclusive.
  • 240 instructional minutes in grades 4 to 12, inclusive.
  • 180 instructional minutes for pupils in grades 11 and 12 that are also enrolled part time in classes of the California State University or the University of California for which academic credit will be provided upon satisfactory completion of enrolled courses.
  • 180 instructional minutes for any pupil who is also a special part-time student enrolled in a community college under Article 1 (commencing with Section 48800) of Chapter 5 of Part 27 of Division 4 and who will receive academic credit upon satisfactory completion of enrolled courses.
  • 180 instructional minutes for pupils enrolled in a continuation high school.
43502. (a) For purposes of calculating apportionments for the 2020–21 fiscal year, a local educational agency shall offer in-person instruction, and may offer distance learning, pursuant to the requirements of this part.
  • For distance learning, instructional time shall be based on the time value of assignments as determined, and certified to, by an employee of the local educational agency who possesses a valid certification document, registered as required by law.
Additionally, California Education Code stipulates that districts must:
    • Offer the required number of instructional days, per EC Section 43504(c).
    • Document daily participation for each pupil, for each school day, on which distance learning is provided as required by EC Section 43504(d).
    • Complete a weekly engagement record for each pupil documenting synchronous or asynchronous instruction for each whole or partial day of distance learning that verifies participation and tracks assignments as required by EC Section 43504(e). To the extent synchronous or asynchronous instruction is assigned to a student in distance learning, that instruction should be included in the assignments listed.
    • Document absences as required by EC Section 43504(d)(1) and (f) for the purposes of chronic absenteeism tracking.
    • Develop written procedures for tiered reengagement strategies for students that are absent from distance learning for more than 3 school days or 60 percent of the instructional days in a school week as required by EC Section 43504(f)(2).
School sites are developing more specific Distance Learning plans consistent with District expectations and Education Code. These site plans will be presented orally as part of the August 6, 2020 Board of Trustees Study Session.
In summary, the District is committed to transitioning to face-to-face instruction as soon as it is safe to do so. To start the 2020-2021 school year, the Black Oak Mine Unified School District will offer high-quality, academically rigorous, and engaging Distance Learning instruction consistent with the principles identified, above.