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Harrisonburg Schools discuss what virtual learning and teaching will look like this fall

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 11:24 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The upcoming school year will be like no other as school divisions get prepared to welcome students back in-person or virtually in the upcoming weeks.

On July 22, Harrisonburg City Public Schools approved moving online for K through grade 12, leaving only identified students in the building for in-person instruction.

High school students learning virtually will have instruction from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting Aug. 31.

Elementary and middle school students learning virtually will begin instruction on Sept. 8. Elementary will have instruction from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and middle school will have instruction from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All students will engage in a mix of asynchronous and synchronous activities, starting with one hour for K through grade 2, and four hours of synchronous instruction for high school students.

Concerns were raised about keeping students actively engaged during the school day and not skipping out on class time, but students’ attendance and grades will be more strict than in the spring when many schools went into crisis-mode.

“We’re going to have an attendance policy that will be multi-dimensional in terms of meaningful contact as opposed to the normal system where [students were] in the desk at a certain hour,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards said during the Zoom meeting.

On “Wonderful Wednesday” students will engage in synchronous and asynchronous encore and enrichment activities. Wednesdays will also be utilized as a day for teacher preparation and collaboration.

There are daily PE and time for movement activities built into these remote schedules, as well as, time for electives.

High school students may participate in alternative programs that would operate in the late afternoon or evening hours virtually. Dr. Richards said this helps some city students who must work jobs during school hours.

As far as access to technology goes, students grades 1 through 12 will have Chromebooks to use at home for school work and to access synchronous instruction through Google Meet.

Kindergarten students will have devices introduced after the start of the year.

Learning Management Systems (LMS), like Canvas, Google Classroom and Seesaw, will be used for students.

Parents will have the opportunity at the beginning of the year for orientation to devices and LMSs. The HCPS Technology Department is working on video tutorials to share with parents that will be posted on their website shortly.

HCPS Technology will continue to support the community’s WiFi needs through this remote learning period.

A more in-depth breakdown of the school day for all students will be added to the Harrisonburg City Public Schools website soon.

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