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Delano Unified School District employs unique remote learning system to deal with COVID-19

"It is an option and a choice"
Posted: 3:36 PM, Jan 24, 2022
Updated: 2022-01-31 15:51:56-05
Remote Learning (FILE)

DELANO, Calif — As COVID-19 cases continue, many industries are seeing the impact and school districts are no different. They are facing staffing shortages and students missing class time due to positive diagnoses.

One Kern County school district has developed a program that gives parents much more flexibility to decide how to deal with the situation. The Delano Unified School District is employing a unique hybrid system where they are setting aside teachers just for online students.

Fifth-grader Riley Stansberry has not been back to school since he was in third grade. He said he likes not having to wake up early or wear a mask all day, and with his new desk, has adjusted.

"Nervous at the same time I guess, because I haven’t been there in like three years. So I don’t know if there is any changes you know. But I would be excited because I would get to see my friends.

In previous years Riley was in virtual classes with other kids from his own school. But this academic year, when the district went back to in-person learning, they wanted to keep a remote version available. So they decided to pull all remote learning students from the various schools within the district into fully remote classrooms.

Bianca Cook is one of the teachers set aside just for remote learning. She explained every month they put together distribution days for students to pick up any materials they will need for that month, aside from providing hot spots and Chromebooks to those who need them.

"It doesn’t just abruptly take one classroom out to remote learning. It is an option and a choice to go remote learning and then they are able to prepare themselves emotionally and physically with all the materials and all that is needed."

Cook also checks in with in-person teachers to make sure everyone is on the same pace.

"And we all have a pacing guide, so we are all following the same flow to what we are learning, what we are doing, so that is a plus side too."

Cook said software collecting the academic data also allows for a swift transition so that all the child’s information is passed on to the next teacher if the student wants to be in-person or vice versa.

The director of curriculum and instruction, Kerry Wallace, said it took a while to figure out the best way to make that transition, but now they have it down.

"A parent calls in and says 'I want my child to go remote.' It usually, by tomorrow, the child will have been contacted, added to Google classroom, will have the Zoom link and everything to get started. They get their materials and off they go. So usually, it is a one-day turnaround."

Wallace explained that although a majority of students are in person, they have seen parents opt for remote starting 2022.

"With the uptick of the newer variant, we have seen an increase for sure of our remote school."

There are many reasons why parents are choosing remote. For Riley, his dad works from home and it just works out.

Meanwhile, Cook said most who are choosing remote are staying the semester.

"When they stay with me, they typically stay with me. Like my kiddos from the first semester, I had them with me with the exception of one or two."

Although this is a great option, both staff and students know consistency is critical.

"I have friends that I have in my class and I really like my teacher so I don’t really want to go back you know," said Riley.

The school district said although we don’t know what the future holds, it is highly likely they will keep some sort of remote learning available even after the pandemic.

You can learn more about the Delano Unified School District remote learning academy online.