Distance learning could be the future at HVRHS
FALLS VILLAGE — Apart from the maintenance staff, who are busy cleaning everything in sight at Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS), the building is mostly deserted, HVRHS Principal Ian Strever said on Thursday, March 19.
Strever said members of the agriculture education staff are taking care of plants and animals during the school closing.
As of Friday, March 20, Region One schools are scheduled to reopen on April 1.
Students are participating in “distance learning.” Strever said that at the high school, 75% to 80% of the teachers had a Google Classroom page set up prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closing.
This allows teachers to provide several days’ worth of assignments and resources to students.
Strever said some teachers are holding teleconferences with students, or providing handouts or “videos of themselves” in lieu of classroom instruction.
The assignments are “formative,” meaning they are not designed to assess if students have mastered a particular subject. “We’re trying to keep continuity.”
There were long lines of students checking out materials from the school library on Friday, March 13.
Strever said the high school is in the middle of the third marking period.
“We’ll have to figure out our quarterly and semester grades,” he said. “But everybody is dealing with it.”
Strever said the crisis presents an opportunity for educators and the use of technology.
“Do you embrace it or utilize it?” he asked.
Looking to the future, he said he could envision a time when schools have a three- or four-day week, combining classroom instruction with distance learning.
He offered reassurance for juniors who will be applying to college soon, saying college admissions offices will have to take the widespread school closings into account.
Asked if all 353 students at HVRHS (including four AFS students) have internet access, Strever said the school did a survey before the schools closed on Monday, March 16.
The results were somewhat unclear, but most students have internet service, either via cable television providers or, in some cases, by dial-up connections.
Ten percent of the students who did respond said they do not have access to high-speed internet, however.
Strever said the school is trying to get in touch with students “but we haven’t heard from them all.”
The school also began delivering meals for those who qualify, as of Wednesday, March 18. All-Star Transportation, Region One’s school bus service, is helping out. The plan is to deliver two days’ worth of food on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
A bulletin published online by the Region One superintendent’s office on Friday, March 20, has additional information.
“We have a number of families who have started to receive meals this week. We would like to provide food to all families to help with this time of uncertainty, so we hope that all families contact their school principal to let them know to add students’ names to the list.
“Any student enrolled in our school can receive food and also for siblings under the age of 18. This is for children, regardless if the children are of school age. We need to keep the delivery lists updated, so that our food service staff knows how many meals to prepare and we can be sure the bus routes are correct.”