Wednesday, October 28, 2020 - 1:40 pm

Superintendent Dana Monogue reported on how virtual learning is going at levels for students, staff and families over the first two months of the 2020-21 school year at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Oct. 26.

Board president Annette Ashley presided over the meeting at the District Services Center, while other Board members participated remotely. The School Board has been meeting virtually since mid-March.    Monogue noted the surveys that families, staff, and middle and high school students have received will provide a significant amount of information and will be used by the District to improve learning.

She said about 360 students are under-engaging and staff continue to try to find out why. She noted some of the reasons include students dealing with mental health issues, taking care of siblings, or simply not liking virtual learning. A number of strategies on ways staff are connecting with students were provided.

Families have also reached out about learning, Monogue said, adding one of the challenges has been the themes and feedback have been varied. She also reminded the Board that feedback when in-person instruction takes place is also varied. Monogue added a lack of consistency regarding instruction across school buildings continues to be brought up by families.  

She noted educators miss their students and keep connecting with families about how they can support them. District administrators have reminded building leaders to continue supporting all staff and providing time for preparation.

Deputy Superintendent Sherri Cyra noted that Director of Elementary Education Rainey Briggs and the seven elementary principals surveyed teachers at that level to learn more about synchronous and asynchronous learning. Approximately 235 teachers completed the survey and Briggs and instructional coaches will review results this week and determine the best way to use the feedback.

Monogue noted the District continues to troubleshoot technology issues and is bringing in students into schools who don't have internet access at home. Schools are also trying to develop more opportunities for students to connect outside of classes.

Monogue also noted the pandemic has also put a spotlight on the inequities in MCPASD schools. She said resources are being maximized and educators are working long hours. She also stressed the District realizes how tough this has been on students families, who are juggling many things. The District's goal is to support students and families as much as possible.

Administrators visited elementary schools in Verona and Waunakee last week and will visit DeForest this week to learn about the challenges and successes those districts have faced in opening schools to pre-kindergarten to second-grade students.

Monogue noted separate surveys were sent to students, staff and families on Monday as the District wants Board re to hear from as many of our stakeholders as possible. The survey results will be reported at the School Board meeting on Nov. 16.

The School Board asked questions about how teachers are connecting with under-engaged students and if other staff might be utilized in those efforts. Members also wanted to know what the breakdown is of under-engaged students in the two instructional models and if switching models might help.