The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kevin Wilson
Editor 

Schools getting ready

Clovis High holds distribution event for Chromebooks

 

Last updated 8/15/2020 at 1:26pm

Kevin Wilson

Clovis High Assistant Principal Alicia Spearman hands a Chromebook to a CHS student during a Friday distribution event at the school campus. The district begins virtual instruction for all schools on Monday.

CLOVIS - The next few weeks are going to be tough on the staff and teachers at Clovis High School. And every other school in the Clovis system that opens virtually on Monday.

And pretty much every school in the state.

But CHS teachers head into Monday realizing for every issue they have, students and their families will be hard-pressed to make the adjustment to opening a school year online as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Melinda Isaacs, a sophomore English teacher, told The News she spoke to a family of five children with concerns over how all of the children would be able to access their classes from home and how she would be able to help them.

"We're all going to have a lot of grace," said Isaacs, whose son Gabriel is a CHS senior, "and we're going to be working with parents and providing support. I think parents with multiple students are concerned about being able to accommodate all of their kids."

The district's plans, along with a lengthy "frequently asked questions" section, is available at clovis-schools.org .

Kindergarten and Pre-K will begin Aug. 24 for Clovis.

Isaacs was one of a group of CHS teachers and administrators who spoke with The News Friday over a Zoom conference a few hours before that afternoon's Chromebook distribution that caused traffic backups on 21st Street.

During the first three weeks all schools are limited to virtual learning under state public health orders, and Clovis teachers have the option to provide instruction from their classrooms or their homes. Teachers may have various reasons to do either, depending on if they have kids in the home or if other people in the household are working from home.

Assistant Principal Alicia Spearman said over the first few weeks, teachers will work with administration to determine just how much students were impacted by loss of learning opportunities in the spring 2020 semester - first with the 10 days of instruction lost when the Public Education Department extended spring breaks by two weeks as a first response to the pandemic, then with the shortcomings of a learn-at-home model districts had to create on the fly when the extended spring break was deemed insufficient at limiting virus spread.

"Typically, we carry out a full school year," Spearman said. "They're going to have to assess the regression, and they're also planning to meet the standards they're already tasked with."

Lisa Lee, who heads the math department at CHS, said the concerns she's hearing from her high schoolers are balancing school with their jobs, and that many of them are the family member responsible for making sure younger siblings participate in school. Overall, everybody is concerned about the unknowns, and Lee means teachers as well as students.

"The thing I've been telling them," Lee said, "is we're all in this together, we're all doing this together."

The biggest challenges for Isaacs will be acclimating sophomores from CHS Freshman Academy to the main CHS campus and being advisor for student council. The campaigning that normally happens the prior spring was postponed to this year, and there are about 30 kids campaigning virtually for 25 positions on the council.

After the Labor Day weekend, school districts are anticipated to phase in to a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction. Clovis has created a Cohort A that attends school Monday and Tuesday, a Cohort B that attends school Thursday and Friday and an online-only Cohort C with Wednesdays scheduled as a virtual day for all and a day to clean campuses between cohorts.

The state is planning to phase in the youngest grades first, as they're the ones most challenged by online learning.

Middle schools and high schools will follow. For CHS, teachers are hopeful to be in the hybrid system sometime in October, but reopening for everybody will depend on transmission rates in that school's region of the state.

When in-person instruction is allowed again, teachers expect some difficulties in enforcing social distancing and face coverings. But it will be one step closer to normal, or at least what was normal in early March.

"I'm ready for school to resume in person," Isaacs said. "I know it is going to be difficult because kids are drawn to being close to each other. Keeping them apart is going to be difficult. Overall, I'm not one that's terribly concerned (we'll have major issues). I'm ready to be back in my classroom with my kids."

The teachers said they're planning numerous virtual activities to engage the students, and they're finding their students are tech-savvy to the point they're providing feedback on teachers' digital classrooms.

 
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