Members of the Williamson County Board of Education will be voting Monday night on a proposal to add nine “flex days” of mostly asynchronous learning for the rest of the school year.
There’s a chance board members will still have something to say on the subject when the plan is formally presented at Thursday’s work session.
Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden and his staff had determined that a pilot of an asynchronous learning day on Sept. 22 was a success, so they crafted a plan to hold three more such days through the current semester and another six January through March.
While students were learning at home on the pilot day, teachers were spending their time preparing for multiple ways of teaching to include on-campus instruction, remote instruction to quarantined students, and teaching students within WCS Online, according to an article in the WCS newsletter InFocus.
“We felt like we met the goals of our pilot,” Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools Leigh Webb said through InFocus. “Based on the feedback we received from teachers and principals, student learning continued and teachers overall felt better prepared to teach the various modes of instruction due to site-based and districtwide collaboration, planning and professional learning.”
In a memo to board members earlier this month, Golden pointed out the demands on teacher time this year because of the impact from the coronavirus pandemic. He listed 12 examples of what teachers are facing in 2020 that they wouldn’t have had to endure in 2019.
“This time challenge for teachers this year is not unique to WCS,” Golden said in his memo. “We are hearing across the state that the time demands on teachers as a result of the impact of COVID are reaching overwhelming proportions.”
On these flex days, all students, grades K-12, will learn mostly asynchronously, remotely from home, while teachers collaborate, participate in professional development and prepare for teaching on campus, remotely and/or online.
The idea of the schedule change was floated at September’s board work session, and it created rather lengthy discussion then as well as at the regular monthly meeting that followed on Sept. 21. It was also a topic at the board policy meeting last week.
Ultimately, Golden insisted, the plan is meant to help teachers get a better handle on their responsibilities while having to face unprecedented challenges.
“Our teachers are working to provide the excellent educational experience that WCS is known for,” he said through InFocus. “But they have been honest with our leadership in our conversations — during this pandemic, they need more time to prepare to ensure they are providing high quality instruction and to ensure that their students are learning.”
The proposed flex day schedule for K-12 students is below:
Friday, Oct. 23
Friday, Nov. 13
Friday, Dec. 4
Friday, January 15
Friday, Jan. 29
Friday, Feb. 5
Friday, Feb. 26
Friday, March 12
Friday, March 26