Madras schools open virtually
Families with Jefferson County School District 509J students had two options when registering for the new school year.
In light of local COVID-19 metrics, families had to choose between the Comprehensive Distance Learning model and CASA Online Learning.
School began virtually for both options Tuesday, Sept. 8.
According to information on the district's website, the temporary Comprehensive Distance Learning option provides the opportunity for teachers, students and classmates to remain connected and engaged with district content materials while working from a distance. Students are a part of their local school and will continue to engage with friends and classmates as part of the learning environment.
Teachers will use live engagement tools such as Google Meet and video and audio recorded lessons to provide direct, teacher-supervised instruction. Students will have regular schedules for daily online learning activities, with most beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding around 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
During distance learning, attendance and participation of all students is required. Daily attendance will be taken, and students will be graded on their work, just as they would be graded if they were physically in school. For those students not able to attend during the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. time period, all content of the daily lessons will be accessible on their Google Classroom for completion at a later time.
This model is designed for teachers and students to navigate back to on-site learning when health metrics allow the district to return to traditional classroom teaching and learning. The district says this option is likely the best choice for families who plan to have their students return to in-person learning once metrics allow schools to reopen.
The district website describes the second option, CASA Online Learning, as a flexible, fully online learning K-12 experience for district students. Jefferson County online teachers will guide the students, who will participate in online learning five days a week with a full load of courses.
JCSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Melinda Boyle reported that 385 of the district's 2,800 students, nearly 14%, registered for the CASA Online Learning from home option.
CASA is powered by Edgenuity, an online curriculum program.
"It provides a flexible, fully online education for students who are looking to continue their education from home even when schools reopen," said CASA Principal Jason Weeks. "CASA will be supported by 509J teachers at all grade levels to support them in their online learning."
He noted that Edgenuity courseware is aligned to common core, state and national standards. It is accredited by AdvancEd, the same company that accredits all high schools to make sure their credits are aligned and accepted by colleges. It is also National Collegiate Athletic Association approved for students looking to take classes online and participate in sports at the next level.
Students enrolled in CASA belong to their resident school and can accelerate their learning through the self-paced curriculum while taking advantage of elective courses. Because CASA Learning is teacher-led, instruction can be structured and differentiated to meet the needs of English learners.
The district points out that CASA Online Learning is a good choice for students who prefer to continue online learning even when schools reopen. It's geared toward students who work independently at their own pace, are comfortable using computers, and seek help when needed.
Students may remain in full-time CASA Online Learning regardless of local and state metrics; however, every nine weeks, there is an opportunity to transition to Comprehensive Distance Learning or on-site learning.
Boyle said the district is using money from the district's general fund to pay for CASA services.
"We are excited to welcome our students and families back on Sept. 8," Boyle said earlier this week.
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