BLP Schools chief lays out 2 distance learning options for fall

Bend-La Pine students will have a couple of options for online education this fall, depending on what kind of distance learning environment families are looking for.

Superintendent Lora Nordquist laid out the two options in an email to parents on Monday, adding that parents can change their plans throughout the year as long as space is available.

The district announced last week it was starting the school year online after Gov. Kate Brown revealed some state health metrics counties must meet before schools can reopen.

Deschutes County does not currently meet any of the metrics, and the numbers are trending up, not down.

The district’s “Comprehensive Distance Learning” option provides teachers, students and classmates to stay connected and engaged with standard district content materials while working from home.

Teachers will use live engagement tools such as WebEx (K-12), as well as video and audio recorded lessons, to provide direct, teacher-supervised instruction, Nordquist said.

Students will use a number of apps and other resources to extend their learning. In addition, activities and assignments will be posted online or printed for students and families.

All instruction will be shared using the learning management systems SeeSaw (K-2), Google Classroom (3-5) and Canvas (6-12).

This option is likely the best choice for families who plan to send their students to schools when they open in the balanced/hybrid model.

A second option, “Bend-La Pine Schools Online,” offers a full-time online experience or individual classes to those who want to supplement their existing class schedule.

It’s the district’s long-established virtual education program that’s been used since 2007.

Students enrolled in BLSO use prepared content from K12 and FuelEd, depending on their level.

BLSO is a separate program from our brick and mortar schools.

For families who want a full-time home learning experience, enrolling in BLSO provides many benefits: comprehensive materials for instruction, online teachers, the loan of an iPad for the duration of the school year, and learning support staff (this will be remote while all schools are closed to students, but it will also be available in person with small groups at district sites once we move to balanced/hybrid instruction.)

This option is likely the best choice for families who plan to educate their students from home throughout the school year.

While staff throughout our district worked hard to support students in a distance learning format last spring, it was a new and sudden experience.

Listening to families, students, and staff, as well as studying best practices from around the world, Nordquist said the district has learned a great deal about how to provide more consistently strong instruction across classrooms, grades, and schools.

She outlined some steps they’re taking:

●Required training for all teachers in distance learning tools and optional trainings for those who desire more;

●Teacher-developed “standards of practice” for all grade levels that will establish requirements about student contact time, evaluation and feedback with student work, and opportunities for engagement with classmates, among others;

●Support for families and students in using the district’s learning management systems and other tools; and

●The ability to assign grades in evaluating student work. In the spring, the state restricted grading to Pass/Incomplete; this restriction has been eliminated.

“The decision to have all students K-12 in our schools in a Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) model is a big lift for our teachers, administrators, and educational assistants, along with other staff,” Nordquist said. “By mid-August, expect your students’ schools to be reaching out with more details about the start of school and with questions about what materials and technology your family might need.”

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