Keeping Up with School
It is well-documented that students experience a “summer slide” in knowledge between school years; this year, it will be intensified in what some educators are calling a “COVID-19 slide.” This drop in knowledge is expected to be more pronounced for students from low-income families and those experiencing a higher degree of economic disruption, food insecurity, and family instability due to the pandemic.
To combat this, the Anchorage School District is increasing online learning opportunities over the summer. Students in middle and high school can take one or two online courses for credit or grade improvement in a wide variety of subject areas. Parents of elementary schoolers can access online resources and request printed learning packets for free on the ASD website. “This summer, keeping kids connected and understanding and moving forward…is something that we’re looking at to mitigate the time out of school” said Superintendent Deena Bishop during a School Board Meeting.
The School District is also developing plans for operating safely in low, medium, and high-risk environments in the fall. Even in a low risk environment, there will be additional precautions in place around cleaning and the number of students that come in contact during classes, passing periods, and lunch. Superintendent Deena Bishop said regarding disease transmission, “we do know better, and so we’re going to behave better and act better in our schools.”
Next year, there will be flexible instruction available both in person and online to allow students and teachers to transition smoothly if the situation is still too high risk for face-to-face learning. Over the summer, teachers and administrators will work towards integrating existing online coursework with teacher’s own curriculums, as well as building full online coursework for elementary school students.
Commissioner of Education Dr. Michael Johnson said during a May 20th press briefing, “our goal is to support schools and districts in preparing plans that can serve them throughout the school year as they may be moving in and out of different levels of risk.” However the 2020-21 school year proceeds, it is clear that it will require significant flexibility from parents, teachers, and students of all ages.