We know that it feels like the world around us is changing by the minute, but we want you to know that the Northwest Local School District is not. The same teamwork, collaborative decision-making and focus on students that guides us every day is serving us well in this challenging time. Our team has been in constant (virtual) contact with each other, and with educational and public-health leaders across the state. We have brought all of our experience and talents to bear on helping our students and staff through this difficult time. Thank you for your patience and support as we work together to get it all right.
There is a distinct difference between our remote learning plan and homeschooling. We do not expect our parents to become educators. Our teachers are expected to provide your child with assignments, instruction, guidance and feedback throughout this period of school closure. We want to work in partnership with you to support your child. We know the next few weeks will be increasingly burdensome on families and our community. Thank you in advance for your patience, understanding, and kindness to one another as we navigate through truly unknown territory.
Remote learning is new for most of us so we are relying on your input and feedback throughout the process. It is our intention that the work and learning that we are requiring is reasonable for students to do independently or with the remote assistance provided by their teachers.
What is the district’s plan for remote teaching and learning?
Since Governor DeWine ordered the closure of our schools on March 17th, our teachers and administrators have been focused on providing opportunities for learning. We have asked our teachers to create activities and assignments that allowed students to review, practice, or extend upon what they had already been taught.
Following our Spring Break, which concludes on Monday, April 13th, our teachers have been instructed to begin teaching new content. Our primary method for delivering new content and assignments will be via Google Classroom and/or your child’s district email account. Our teachers may record lessons and share the videos or they may invite students to participate in live lessons and help sessions via Google Hangouts or Zoom.
As stated earlier, remote teaching and learning is as new for most of our teachers as it is for our students. Our teachers need time to learn about effective strategies and tools for remote teaching, prepare instructional videos and lessons, and collaborate with other teachers and their administrators. Beginning on April 14th, our teachers will no longer be holding “office hours” on Fridays so that they can engage in professional learning and lesson preparation. While teachers will not be providing new lessons or holding “office hours” on Fridays, they will be hard at work and are expected to provide sufficient instructional activities to keep your child engaged in learning throughout the entire school week.
What happens if my child needs extra help?
Teachers will also be available to assist you and your child remotely for a minimum of 3 hours per day on Monday through Thursday. Teachers will communicate through their classrooms what their “office hours” will be. Office hours can be used to get answers to questions and support via email or phone. All of our teachers will be expected to return your emails within 24 hours.
What if my child does not have a device or access to the internet?
Families who do not have access to or have technology device needs at home, are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher or principal to request assistance. NWLSD provided over 3,400 Chromebooks to students the week of March 16th but we recognize that there are still students who do not have access to a device or who may not have consistent access to the internet. We hope to be able to offer another opportunity for students to pick up devices from the schools after Spring Break.
Drive up Wi-Fi access is available in the parking lots at Taylor Elementary, Struble Elementary and Pleasant Run Elementary. Access will only be permitted during daytime hours. Families must stay in their cars at all times.
Charter Communications is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access to families with students in K-12 who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. To access this, parents should call 844-488-8395. Please be aware that families who have attempted to take advantage of this offer have stated that it is taking 7 business days or more to get an account. For more information: http://bit.ly/33qxldU
How can my child get support with technology during the closure?
While some technology related issues with online systems and login account information may be resolved by first alerting the teacher, parents may additionally submit a question or request for the Technology Department for more assistance using the following link: Student Chromebook Support Request Form
Before submitting a request, parents should first review our Student Chromebook FAQ
Should the length of time which my child spends on electronic lessons and activities be equal to the length of the school day? If not, how long should each lesson take for a student to complete?
The primary intention of remote learning is to help ensure that your child does not fall dramatically behind during the closure or lose learning which had been previously gained. Distance learning is not an equal substitute for the typical day-to-day instruction in which your child typically engages. We have asked our teachers to provide students and families with guidance around how long various learning activities should take to complete. Please communicate with your child’s teacher if activities are taking significantly longer than outlined. Our goal is not to frustrate you or your child with the learning opportunities that our teachers are providing.
What about grades?
Student feedback is the most effective strategy we have to increase student learning. We need your help in letting your child know how important it is that they participate in lessons and complete activities that are assigned to the best of their ability. We have strongly encouraged our teachers and intervention specialists to send weekly feedback to families/students using student email accounts. Each teacher's feedback/grading approach should be clearly communicated to students and families. Feedback should allow your child to know if they have met the learning target, to seek help if necessary, and to allow our teachers the opportunity to identify those in need of remediation and additional support.
At this time we believe that we will assign a grade of either P (Pass) or NE (No Evidence) for the fourth quarter that will be based on participation in remote learning. We will be asking our Board of Education to approve a P/NE grading system during times of remote learning and extended school closure at the upcoming school board meeting.
Students will not be required to take final exams for high school courses (Grades 8-12).
Significant programmatic changes need to be made in Gradebook to allow teachers to combine different grade types for third and fourth quarter. We have asked our technology experts to assist us with making these changes but it will take some time. Further communication will be forthcoming to provide greater clarity around grading, particularly for high school courses where credit is awarded.
How will special education services be provided to my child during the school closure?
Our intervention specialists, instructional assistants, related service providers, and teacher(s) are collaborating virtually during the closure period to create instructional materials and resources that meet your child’s individual needs, based on his or her IEP. Following Federal and State guidelines, each child’s school-based IEP team will make a good-faith effort to ensure delivery of special education and related services while school is closed.
What are the expectations for students during our scheduled Spring Break?
Students are not required to complete school work over Spring Break (April 6-13). Spring break will be treated for all students and staff the same as it usually occurs. There will be no work provided for students during Spring Break.
What do I need to do if a member of our family becomes ill and cannot participate in remote learning?
If you or a family member becomes ill, your first priority is to take care of yourself or your loved one. Please communicate with your child’s teacher as soon as possible so that they can provide appropriate care and adjust expectations if needed.
If our teachers or their family members have an illness or emergency situation that will require them to be unavailable to students we have asked them to communicate this to their building principal so that they can inform students and families and develop an alternate plan for learning to continue.
Will my child still be responsible for participation in State testing?
No. The General Assembly has passed House Bill (HB) 197 in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and Gov. Mike DeWine has signed the bill into law.
The bill eliminates state and federal testing for the 2019-2020 school year, prohibits the issuance of state report cards for the 2019-2020 school year and provides a one-year safe harbor from sanctions related to the report card, waives the third-grade reading guarantee retention requirement.
What about our seniors and high school graduation?
House Bill (HB) 197 permits schools to grant high school diplomas to students on track to graduate and for whom the principal determines that the student has successfully completed the curriculum. Additional guidance related to our district’s requirements for graduation and plans for recognizing our graduates will be forthcoming for our seniors and their families from our high school principals.
Will we have to make up days or hours in the summer?
House Bill (HB) 197 permits schools to make up through distance learning any number of days or hours necessary to meet minimum instructional hour requirements. Since we are providing distance learning during the closure we will be allowed to count these hours toward the minimal instructional hour requirements and should not have to make up days during the summer.
High school students who need to recover credit will have the opportunity to complete courses online over the summer. Middle school students who have failed 2 or more core courses for the year will also be required to participate in online summer school. Our elementary leaders are working to prepare online reading and math activities that will allow learning to continue over the summer as well.
What is the plan for AP Testing?
Students in AP courses will still be encouraged to take AP Exams. AP Exams will be modified in length and scope and delivered online on two different dates. Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.
The College Board is working with business partners across the country to ensure that all AP students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam. If students need mobile tools or connectivity, they can contact College Board directly using the following link: https://collegeboard.tfaforms.net/74?SFMC_cid=EM288604-&rid=80472866
Additional information related to AP Testing will be coming directly from our high school administrators, counselors and teachers.