QPS working to roll out next phase of remote learning plan

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 4, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools rolls out its next phase of remote learning for students on April 13, but Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Kim Dinkheller said one thing already is clear.

"Remote learning is not what we can provide for students in the classroom," Dinkheller said. "It's not intended to be an online class."

That, hopefully, takes some pressure off families trying to juggle work, often from home, and school, also at home, during the COVID-19 pandemic while still providing learning opportunities for students.

Separate plans, still being finalized, will cover pre-K, K-5, junior high and high school students.

"The goal this time is to help structure a little more in a flexible way, so parents understand this is how long students should be working each day for each grade level, here's what they should be doing and make that work for what's best for you," Dinkheller said. "If you're working all day, it's appropriate for students to work on this in the evening."

The Illinois State Board of Education set minimum and maximum amounts of time students should be engaged in remote learning -- 30 minutes up to 90 minutes a day for kindergarten, for example, 60 minutes up to 120 minutes for grades 3-5 and 20 to 45 minutes per day per class for high school -- with an aim that student grades are not lowered as a result.

"Our goal is to make sure that we're sending things that students can work on independently for the right amount of time," Dinkheller said.

The QPS K-5 plan, for example, will offer a calendar-style activity menu.

"Each activity takes 15 minutes tops that kids can do independently. Choose one thing per day off this menu," Dinkheller said. "If a kiddo loves math, there are some ways to enrich off that basic activity too."

The remote learning plan will offer offline and online opportunities.

QPS is finalizing details to distribute some devices to students in need, but "you don't necessarily have to have a device to stay engaged with remote learning," Dinkheller said. "We will still have paper copies available."

Top priorities for QPS remain the health, well-being and safety of students and families, along with feeding students, then academics.

Teachers will check-in with students at least once a week.

"We want our teachers to communicate with families and students, not just check in academically but check in on how things are going," Dinkheller said. "Kids miss teachers. Teachers miss kids. They worry about them and want to make sure they're doing OK."

Illinois officially began remote learning this week while schools remain closed at least through April 30. QPS' initial continued learning plan, launched March 18, already fit Illinois State Board of Education recommendations for remote learning.

"We don't expect it to look like it does in the traditional classroom," Dinkheller said. "The goal is to minimize regression, so when we come back together, we'll take a look and see how this impacted our kids overall and what shifts in curriculum, instruction, intervention and support we need to help meet needs of students."