ORFORDVILLE—Parkview School District is offering online learning, with kindergarteners through high school seniors having their own district-issued devices, and in some cases, wifi hotspots.
Because many students in the rural district have internet connectivity issues, the district is passing out wifi hotspots, according to Parkview Superintendent Steve Lutzke.
“We are handing out U.S. Cellular hotspots to families that need them and the district is paying for the data for the devices. We handed out about 20 of those and have about 10 more to distribute,” Lutzke said.
Online learning at Parkview has been a smooth transition for the most part. Most students in grades 7 through 12 already had either an iPad or Chromebook going home daily with them. Once the schools closed to students, the district decided to issue devices to all students.
“There was a curbside pickup for mobile devices, and teachers sent home academic materials,” Lutzke said. “Last Thursday and Friday all but three families came. We had a different door for each grade.”
Teachers from kindergarten through eighth grade give daily instruction in reading, math, science, physical education, art and music, social studies and vocational education.
In high school, the different subjects and their teachers are meeting online so by Friday, students have had all of their courses.
Lutzke said teachers have struggled with connectivity issues, and some of them come inside the school to use the wifi.
“We have two to three teachers a day popping in to do some things in their classroom they can’t do from home. Schools are exempt from the Safer at Home order as long as it involves doing virtual instruction,” Lutzke said.
Lutzke explained how each teacher uses Google classroom and has the ability to monitor each student’s progress.
“The teacher sends an assignment, the student receives the assignment and completes it on the computer and sends it back to the teacher,” Lutzke said.
Teachers ask kids a series of questions each morning to verify they are engaged and the teachers host at least two Zoom meetings a week with all the students and the teacher connected at one time. Teachers are also required to check in with parents weekly to see if they have questions.
With the books online and other online resources and printed material, students should have enough work to carry them through the end of the year. So far, Lutzke said kids, parents and teachers enjoy the novelty of online schooling. However, as it gets closer to June, he said it might become more challenging to keep kids engaged similar to how it is at the end of the year in a traditional classroom.
Lutzke said it doesn’t look like there will be a traditional graduation ceremony, but possibly one in the summer.
“Prom doesn’t look quite as promising,” he said.
Parkview, like many districts, is offering free breakfasts and lunches for students. Parkview doles out packed lunches and breakfasts in a curbside pickup on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m.—12:30 p.m. at Parkview High School. Two days of meals are provided on each date.
The school board is having a regular meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Parkview Elementary School to approve the waiver granted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction so the district is not legally required to make up hours.
“So far we’ve missed five days last week while planning and getting materials distributed,” Lutzke said. “We are probably not going to make up hours as we have virtual instruction everyday.”
At Wednesday’s board meeting Lutzke said the district will approve a policy to do remote board meetings and participation so if someone can’t come, board members can use a Zoom meeting or Google hangout. On Wednesday, board members will attend in person and will be spaced 6 feet away from each other.
“It will be open to the public, but we will have to practice social distance,” Lutzke said.
While teachers and administrators are being paid, Lutzke said the board will consider whether to extend support staff salaries through the end of the year.