FWCS to continue blended learning for rest of school year, many students without internet access

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne Community Schools will use online and remote learning to finish out the school year, the district said Friday.

FWCS submitted a Continuous Learning Plan to the state that includes teaching through online portal PowerSchool, and remote teaching with “learning packets” for students that do not have internet access.

Learning packets would be districted to students “soon,” the district said. Teachers will be available to assist students every day.

The last day of school for FWCS students will remain Thursday, May 28.

“Students are expected to participate in the learning opportunities provided by whatever means possible, whether it is online, using the learning packets or at-home learning with support from teachers and parents,” the district said.

The district has been working on the plan since Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Dr. Jennifer McCormick announced April 2 that all K-12 schools would have no in-person instruction for the rest of the school year. It is similar to the blended learning system students have been doing the past couple of weeks.

The learning model that uses both online tools and paper worksheets. That means teachers post three lessons a week and students work on them at home. Students with access to the internet have been accessing their lessons through the district’s online portal called PowerSchool.

“They get on there, they can meet with their teachers, communicate with them,” said Krista Stockman, Public Information Officer for FWCS. “Teachers are posting assignments there. All of those things are aligned with the curriculum they would have been doing had they been in the classroom.”

FWCS was able to provide some laptops to senior students who needed the technology to graduate or earn certifications, but the majority of their students are relying on their resources at home. Through this experience, the district has learned that around 40 percent of their student body does not have internet access, so teachers have had to adapt.

“For those students, we are going to be putting together some hard copies and paper packets that also align with the curriculum,” said Stockman.

Details on what that will look like and how students will get them and turn them in are still being worked out. Stockman said teachers will try and connect with those students over the phone but, like with the internet, that not all students have around the clock access to telephones.

“Our philosophy has always been that students learn best when they are with their teachers,” said Stockman. “We’re finding really the best way then is to pick up the phone and call. Now, people don’t have landlines like they used to. I think our teachers are certainly willing to do this, they want to connect with their students, but there’s a lot that they have to do.”

All of this has pushed up the district’s plans to implement eLearning by a year to start this fall. They are still figuring out the details, like how often it will be used and whether or not they will allow students to take them home, as it is likely Internet access will still be an issue for that 40 percent of students next year.

You can read the district’s full Continuous Learning Plan here.

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