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New DESE map shows how Missouri schools vary in learning styles this fall

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 10:07 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Some students across the state are learning in class everyday, at home everyday, or a combination of at-home learning and classroom learning.

A new map of the state published by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shows how districts across the state differ. With COVID-19 cases varying city by city and county by county, schools all over had to make tough decisions this fall.

Schools in Springfield and across the state had to do a lot of planning to figure out how their students would be learning this fall. In Springfield, the district worked all summer long exploring possible options. The district also asked for community input.

“We also surveyed our staff and our parents,” R-12 district spokesperson Stephen Hall said. “We received feedback from more than 8,000 parents, more than 1,200 staff. That helped us formulate the plan.”

According to the map, most districts across the state have adopted one of four learning models for the fall.

It lists those options as either onsite, onsite with a distanced option, distanced, or a blend of onsite and distanced.

The department defines these options as follows:

  • Onsite: All students receiving instruction on campus.
  • Onsite w/ Distanced Option: Students are receiving instruction on campus, while the school is also providing families an option for distanced instruction.
  • Blend Onsite/Distanced: Some students are receiving instruction on campus while others are taking part in distanced learning. Grade levels may be receiving different patterns of instruction, or students may be splitting time between onsite and distanced learning.
  • Distanced: All students are receiving instruction away from campus to support social distancing.

Across the state, 258 districts offer in class learning with a virtual option. An additional 185 districts offer classroom only learning. Then 62 others adopted a virtual learning only model. Fifty, including Springfield Public Schools, have selected a blended or hybrid model.

With those various types of learning styles, close to 352,000 students are in districts with onsite and distance options. Nearly 227,000 are in distanced only schools. Just a little more than 201,000 are in districts that have the hybrid model. And just over 98,000 are taking classes in-person only.

Hall said he has looked over the map and understands how districts have made their decisions.

“What I’ve noticed is that school districts across the state are making decisions based on the data in the county that that distrcit is located in,” he said. “Which is exactly what has happened here in Springfield.”

Hall said the hybrid blend has worked well for the district so far.

“That allows us to reduce the population in any school building by 50 percent. And what we have seen this week and last week, that has achieved exactly what we hoped it would achieve,” he said.”

The district explored several hybrid options before setting its final plans.

“As it became clear to us that the number of COVID-19 cases were increasing in Greene County,” he said. “It became clear we needed to do everything possible to reduce the number of people within each classroom and the school building on any given day.”

Just a few minutes away in Nixa, the district has classroom learning with a virtual option. But some high school students and a select few have the option for a hybrid model.

“We’re doing things that are different,” Nixa Superintendent Gearl Loden said. “I mean this is the first time we’ve ever had to develop relationships with new children as teachers virtually.”

He said the district’s faculty have all adapted quite well to this new way of learning.

“I think our teachers who are going virtual are doing a great job as far as on-boarding our children,” Loden said. “And of course like school, the first two weeks you’re working out kinks and trying to fine tune things. Our traditional teachers are working on protocols, norms and procedures that are a little different this year.”

Loden said the district has received lots of positive feedback from parents, teachers and students.

Both districts are happy to have everyone back, despite all the changes this year.

“It’s so nice to have our teachers and our students back,” Loden said. “Our buildings are nice, our communities provided us with some great resources, but they’re not meant to be empty they’re meant to educate children.”

While both school districts are happy with how their models are working so far, both are also actively keeping an eye on whether or not they need to adapt to the pandemic.

You can visit the DESE COVID-19 page to view the map and see how districts across the state vary in learning models right now.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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