With COVID-19 numbers rising in the area and the holidays coming up, the Mendota Elementary School District will extend its full remote learning through Jan. 18.
Superintendent Dr. Kristen School discussed the decision to with the Board of Education at its meeting Thursday.
The district initially announced remote learning through Thanksgiving on Nov. 8 due to a shortage of staff caused by quarantine.
At the meeting, School referenced a report put together by the district’s nurses that show the COVID-19 positivity rate is significantly higher now than it was when school started.
School also noted the number of COVID-19 cases within the district plus the number of students and staff in quarantine is “pretty significant.”
“We can only control things happening within our building,” School said. “We can’t control what is happening elsewhere. We have to look at things through that lens, so after a great deal of discussion about where we’re at as a community, the administrative team would like to make the recommendation to extend this pause a little farther.
“We tried to take everything into consideration and take a chunk of time after the holiday break to allow whatever is going to happen to run its course.”
While the remote learning extension wasn’t an action item for the board, board members expressed support for the move.
School also said a benefit of making this decision is to allow parents to make accommodations.
“When looking at a planning standpoint, we understand and are concerned with the difficulties parents have,” School said. “The more information they have and long-term ability to plan, the better.”
With the extension, the district’s administrators are making adjustments to the remote learning plan to help students who are struggling.
“We know full well remote learning is not the answer for a lot of kids,” School said. “We have a lot of students at a variety of grade levels who are struggling. We spoke at great length to come up with alternatives that would place a little less emphasis on the technology aspect of things and revert back to placing something in kids’ hands.”
The district will provide students with packets, workbooks, worksheets and other materials to complement the technology-based learning.
“We’ll offer (physical materials) to use as an enhancement that could fill the gap or help with some of the frustration,” director of teaching and learning Beth Wackerlin said. “It’s parallel curriculum so it’s the same stuff (as remote learning). We’re just going to put something physically in their hands they can work through to help them more.
“We’re trying to reach every student.”
At the same time, the district is looking to hold students accountable for not completing work while trying to figure out areas where students have fallen behind.
To do that, the district will use MobyMax, which Wackerlin said can “pinpoint learning gaps” so lessons can be sent out to help students catch up.
In other business Thursday, the board approved the initial tax levy that will increase the tax rate by 4 cents.
School said on a home valued at $100,000, taxes would go up about $7.