AISD officials answer questions about remote learning during COVID-19 closures

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dr. Lisa Goodnow, associate superintendent of academics and social and emotional learning, along with Dr. Akweta Hickman, director of special education, took questions from the media discussing the district’s continuous learning at home plan.

Online learning starts Monday, and despite all the planning that has gone into this undertaking, Goodnow admitted that it’s going to be a learn-as-we-go situation to a certain degree.

“We’ve never done this before,” Goodnow said. “We’ve never taken 81,000 students, 6,000 teachers and 130 campuses into a continuous learning model, ever — in a matter of two work weeks and one spring break week.”

The main resource for both educators and parents during remote learning, Goodnow said, is the district’s centralized website. Goodnow said the district is taking tools it already has and is optimizing them, and some students have used the online tools before.

Goodnow says parents and students should treat this like the first day of school.

“This is going to be a time where we are navigating the space,” Goodnow said. “We’re going to know a lot more about this after Monday, and then a lot more after Tuesday.

There are suggested schedules for the students to keep on the website, along with lesson plans for every grade level. They are also delivering Chromebooks to those who need them.

Teachers will also rely heavily on the website and utilize Zoom and other district resources to instruct directly to students. Goodnow said that students will have the flexibility to view instruction “when they can,” and that progress monitoring — assessing where the student is at with their learning — is more in focus than a letter grade.

If a teacher needs to go over something with a student multiple times, that’s what will happen.

Goodnow says some of the students have been using some of the online tools already through blended learning classes, but as she said, this hasn’t been done with the entire district using it at the same time.

“This is going to look different for all 81,000 students in the district,” Goodnow said.

Dr. Hickman said schools in the district are receiving support for the Texas Education Agency to be able to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“We received guidance released yesterday from the TEA regarding IEP meetings and evaluations and ways school districts can support,” Hickman said.

“We have to understand, this big global pandemic is unprecedented in many ways in which IDEA was not designed to support.”

Hickman said the district is providing training to the teachers to help fill the gaps that might come up during special education instruction.

“Many of our kids are still going to need hands-on support, so we have set aside materials to create task boxes and instructional material that will be delivered near to the homes, and we’ll coordinate with families to provide them with that information.”

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