SMSD News: Continuous learning

"Our goal is to keep our students, staff, and the community safe," says Shwanee Mission Superintendent Mike Fulton. "The statewide closure of school facilities is only effective if we all adhere to social distancing rules, regularly wash hands, and take other precautions as directed by health professionals."

Our Teaching and Learning team has been hard at work, imagining new ways to ensure that our more than 27,000 students are able to continue learning during this next period of time. There are many challenges to work through. How do we ensure equity in access to learning for all students? What delivery methods will be most engaging for our students? What content is most important to focus on?

Our answers to these questions will differ, based on age, subject matter, access to technology, and many other factors. We will need to personalize our learning for each child and focus on key content areas.

This week, Shawnee Mission administrators and educators have been working to design how to provide continuous learning for students for the remainder of the school year. That comprehensive plan will be presented to the Shawnee Mission Board of Education at an upcoming special meeting on Monday evening, and to the State of Kansas for approval in the near future. We thank all of the staff members who have dedicated countless hours to thinking, planning, and acting so Shawnee Mission can continue to provide what students need.

What is Continuous Learning? Just as the name implies, this will allow students to continue learning despite school buildings being closed for the rest of the year. Instructional models will focus on essential learning for students, and use materials, resources and platforms that already are in place. Plans will vary from school to school.

Implementation will be subject to adjustments as everyone learns how to best support students in a distance-learning environment. The end goal is to provide a safe, secure learning and working environment. The closure of schools is only effective if we adhere to personal distancing rules, wash hands regularly, and take precautions as directed by health professionals.

I know parents and community members have a lot of questions. Some of the answers will come from me in the coming days, and many others will come from our building principals. At the same time, we HAVE to make sure that we are following all public health guidelines, to keep everyone safe.

As we work through these challenges, we will continue to communicate. We will work through, and figure this out, together.

Stay strong, stay safe, and stay home.

Mike Fulton