Delaware City School District teachers have returned to school buildings to begin professional development ahead of the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Assistant Superintendent Craig Heath said in an email Monday staff has been preparing to return to classes and will continue to work on plans and procedures before classes begin Aug. 31.
“Principals have already met with their building leadership teams to review the safety guidelines shared by the Delaware County General Health District and have developed plans for how they will be implemented in their facilities,” Heath said. “Throughout this first week back, these plans are being presented to all staff members so everyone knows the exact safety procedures we will have in place when students return on Aug. 31. Administrators, teachers, and all classified staff members are following and practicing these safety protocols for the next two weeks so that they are prepared to model best practices for the students upon their return.”
Heath said all staff will be in the buildings for the next two weeks taking part in professional development and trainings focused on the district’s hybrid-learning model where half of the students will attend school Monday and Tuesday and the other half will attend in-person school Thursday and Friday. The two groups of students will alternate Wednesdays each week and spend the other days of the week doing remote learning. The families in the district could also opt into an all-online academy taught by Delaware teachers.
“Over the next two weeks, all staff members will be participating in professional development activities to prepare for both the blended learning and online academy environments,” Heath said.
He added one focus of training will be the online learning platform, Canvas, which the district also used for remote learning in the spring. Heath said the training aims to make the platform more consistent for families this year.
“Teachers will be completing Canvas training to align their landing pages so students and families will see more consistency across all teachers, grade levels and content areas,” Heath said. “There are also modules teachers will complete to learn more about the advanced features in Canvas so they can create a more interactive learning environment for their students.”
Heath said teachers who signed up to teach through the online academy will be learning about the new platform they’ll be using for the families who have chosen online instruction this year.
“Our online academy teachers will also be going through training in a new digital learning platform called Acellus,” Heath said. “Acellus will be used for students in grades K-12 and will serve as the foundational curricular tool in the online academy this year. The training will provide teachers with an overview of the platform and then allow them an opportunity to identify the lessons, videos, modules, assessments, and activities they will be using with the students at their grade level and content area.”
Heath added there will be additional training for teachers in the areas of special education requirements, gifted service delivery, technology integration and assessment tools.
In addition to learning about new platforms, staff will also take part in webinars with Dr. Cierra Austin from the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, who will discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion with staff.
“Dr. Austin is an expert in this field and will be presenting on implicit bias and systemic racism,” Heath said. “She will also work closely with our district throughout the school year by facilitating our diversity, equity and inclusion team made up of students, teachers, and administrators from across our district. This work will support our staff in creating a culture of inclusion in all of our buildings.”
Heath said the district will also spend time working with staff to discuss social emotion learning and present an overview of a new digital tool called Panorama.
“(Panorama) identifies and measures social emotional issues that may be present in our buildings and with our students,” Heath said. “Panorama will provide survey data and support strategies that our teachers can use to meet the needs of all students, especially as we transition back to school under this extremely unique set of circumstances.”
More information about the district’s back-to-school plans can be found at https://www.dcs.k12.oh.us/.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.