School district rolling out more support for distance learning

Apr 10, 2020

Credit KPBSD

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s announcement Thursday that distance delivery of education will continue through the rest of the school year did not come as a surprise to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff says the district has been expecting to continue the remote learning system it began March 30 through the end of school May 20.

“Overall, we’ve heard really positive things. The schools are there for our kids, our nurses are reaching out, we’re doing the lunch programs. And we can always improve, so we look forward to hearing, ‘What do you need?’ And we’ll be as responsive as we can,” she said.

Erkeneff says professional development opportunities are continuing for teachers. And the district is planning to offer opportunities for parents, as well.

“There’s some classes for parents that will be available that they can take, as well, through our professional development platform with our coaches that hopefully will help our parents a little bit in, ‘How do I structure the day with my kids?’ And some other different opportunities for parents are coming up next week,” she said.

One of the questions going into remote learning was how grades would be handled. At the high school level, the way fourth-quarter grades will be reflected on college transcripts is a national conversation. In KPBSD, at all levels, grades will be based on where students were at the end of the third quarter. Erkeneff says the district is tracking and measuring student engagement and progress this quarter but won’t penalize students who struggle with remote learning.

“How do we shift from that model that the grade determines the effort? We need to let some things go. Not everybody’s in the same place with what they have accessibility to in their home. The grades that a student had going into this fourth quarter, nothing will be less than that. They have every opportunity to increase that but we also have a no-harm grading guideline that will be in place,” she said.

As for graduation ceremonies, it’s clear large school gatherings will not be possible next month, so the district is coming up with ideas of what to do instead.

“Schools are talking among themselves and with students to figure out ways that we can really celebrate the achievements of all our students,” she said. “We’re not canceling graduations, it’ll look different and we’ll do our best to make it special. And I think everybody, in all of our cities, can help be a part of that. Even if we’re physically distant, we can still be close in spirit.”

Erkeneff expects more information on graduations will be ready in the next two weeks.