FREMONT COUNTY — A local school district is testing out a new kind of learning model for three weeks, in preparation for potentially having to alter how schooling is done in the fall because of COVID-19. News5 spoke with the superintendent of Fremont RE-2 Schools, who explained how their new tutoring-like sessions will supplement the e-learning the district has already been practicing.
Dr. Brenda Krage, the superintendent of Fremont RE-2 Schools, said they have two elementary schools and one junior/senior high school. Of those three campuses, Dr. Krage said their district enrollment is just under 1,400 students. The district serves rural communities, and ceased in-person learning on March 12 when they left for Spring Break. The schools have participated in e-learning since then. "If you think of learning as the constant, and delivery as the variable, how do we toggle, or switch back and forth between e-learning or in-person learning? Or, what does it look like somewhere in between?" said Dr. Krage.
Dr. Krage said they have been considering how to use the remaining time in this school year, while offering some kind of community support and still complying with both Colorado and the CDC's guidelines regarding COVID-19. They decided to use these weeks to practice and learn more about this new education model, so they can apply any lessons to the fall semester if it is also impacted by the virus. So, they are instituting new in-person sessions, where teachers can work with a small number of students on certain subjects. "Very likely, that we're going to open the fall session looking very differently... Governor Polis has been very clear, that he closed all regular schooling for the rest of the year. We are not offering regular schooling. This is very small numbers, very controlled, very prescriptive, pre-scheduled, five students to one teacher. Very limited numbers in a building, with cleaning protocols, all the social distancing, face masks, temperature checking, and so forth," said Dr. Krage, describing their new tutoring-like sessions which will last from April 27 to May 14.
Not all teachers will be participating in these new two hour sessions, which will take place on the three campuses. All teachers will still be practicing e-learning. "It's voluntary for parents and students. We've given a lot of latitude to our teaching staff to participate or not," said Dr. Krage.
In addition to providing support to both families and their students, the district also hopes to learn more from this new way of teaching. "Plan and prepare for two scenarios in the fall. One of e-learning, and one of in-person. I think we'll land somewhere in between that," said Dr. Krage.
Dr. Krage said Fremont RE-2 Schools are fortunate because the majority of their students had access to IPads before this pandemic. However, she said internet access in rural areas still proves to be a challenge, and if the new normal for education relies on technology then the state would need to help. "Connectivity in rural Colorado is a major issue. We are going to, as a state, we're going to have to address how we get internet access for all of our kids," said Dr. Krage.
Parents can talk to their child's teacher to sign up.
The week of May 18 is the district's last full week, which will be used to close down the campuses, collect any technology from students, and return any personal possessions that may have been left on campus.