Burlington Public Schools will be completing a pilot of the Distance Learning Program beginning on May 23. This pilot will not affect student attendance and will not remove any school days from the calendar this school year. This pilot will test the capacity of BPS to communicate assignments electronically during canceled days. Final approval of Distance Learning will be discussed and voted upon by the School Committee during the 2019/2020 School year.
Several of the following FAQs are related to a potential full implementation of Distance Learning. If you have further questions please submit them here.
Distance Learning Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What is Distance Learning?
Distance Learning is an effort to develop a process for delivering curriculum in an organized manner with a clear start and end date using timely, relevant and quality learning experiences. Distance Learning refers to a process of providing students with assignments and/or instruction that can be done remotely in order to make up school when school is closed due to reasons such as inclement weather. This “Structured Learning Time”, that will be done remotely, will count towards the students’ learning requirements outlined by the state of Massachusetts.
What is Structured Learning Time?
Per the state of Massachusetts, Structured Learning Time shall mean time during which students are engaged in regularly scheduled instruction, learning activities, or learning assessments within the curriculum for study of the "core subjects" and "other subjects." In addition to classroom time where both teachers and students are present, structured learning time may include directed study, independent study, technology-assisted learning, presentations by persons other than teachers, school-to-work programs, and statewide student performance assessments.
Why would Burlington institute a Distance Learning program?
To develop a process to deliver curriculum in an organized manner with a clear start and end date using timely, relevant and quality learning experiences.
This program will allow us to recover the missed days/hours of school due to cancellations, without having to add additional day(s) on to the end of the school year. We understand that the last week in June is not a most productive time for learning to take place.
The Distance Learning program also allows students to develop their foundational skills needed to plan and accomplish learning in different environments. A byproduct of this program is that students will experience learning in different environments and it promotes independence. The ability to navigate Distance Learning programs has also become a critical skill for our students as they advance beyond Burlington Public Schools.
What if we want our students to “just be kids” and go outside and play in the snow for the day?
We too believe that snow play is an important part of childhood in New England. Another benefit of the two-week window to complete the activities is that the work does not have to be done on the snow day. Furthermore, the Distance Learning activities will not be the same length of the school day so there would be time to play in the snow and complete the Distance Learning activities if parents/students wish to do both.
What is the role of an educator for this Distance Learning plan?
Educators will assign appropriate activities to students that can be completed remotely. Assignments will be communicated electronically via Google Classroom or Seesaw. Alternative communication will be available as needed especially in the case of power loss or lack on available technology. Educators will communicate due dates based on the two week window provided in Distance Learning. Educators will check in with students about their ability to access assignments and provide feedback as appropriate for assignments.
Parents and guardians can access Google Classroom or Seesaw using student accounts. Log in information will be shared by educators. Families can also follow student journals in Seesaw by joining Family Access. Please communicate with your child’s educator for an invitation to Seesaw.
How will students know what their Distance Learning assignment will be for the canceled day?
Teachers will determine/develop assignments and communicate with students how to access them. Google Classroom or Seesaw. Although assignments will be posted on Google Classroom or Seesaw so that students may access them remotely, they won’t always need to be completed using technology or digital resources. Educators will decide how assignments should be completed and submitted.
Most snow days are anticipated and teachers will typically prepare students the day before a snow event. Educators will post activities by 10:30 AM on the morning of the canceled day. Educators may also choose to communicate the assignments before the anticipated canceled day.
What if one or some of my students don’t have computer/internet access at home?
We recognize not all Distance Learning activities will be done via computer/device, but understand that most will. This is another reason there will be a window of time (approximately two weeks) before the assignment is due. During that time, arrangements can be made for students to access technology as needed or alternative methods of communication including printed copies of assignments. Students will never be penalized for not having access to technology at home. Students or parents should communicate with educators about specific needs for access to assignments.
Which classes will students be responsible for on a Distance Learning day?
Each Distance Learning activity will correspond with a specific school day that has been canceled. Students will only be responsible for activities for the classes they would have missed on the canceled day.
Do all schools/students have the same lessons?
Not necessarily. Each Distance Learning activity will be teacher specific, but teachers working on the same units with their respective class may choose to work collaboratively with their colleagues to develop assignments - this is encouraged but not mandated.
When do students have to submit their Distance Learning assignments?
The district will provide a two-week window from when the assignment is given to the due date. Student work will never be due the day they return to school from a canceled day. Assignments can be passed in any time within the two week window. This due date will be communicated to students. The two-week window will provide flexibility for students to complete the work outside of school and receive support services if needed.
What if a student requires IEP support services to complete curriculum assignments?
Distance Learning will be discussed at individual team meetings. DL assignments may look different for each child. Assignments may be adapted for students on an IEP for their specific needs. DL Assignments are not due on the day following a school cancellation day, in order to ensure that students have the time and support services they need to successfully complete their assignments. In most cases, the assignment is developed in advance of the missed day so the special education teachers will work with the classroom teachers to modify work for the students on their caseload as needed. Services are different for each child and Special Educators will be able to assist IEP students with support services during the two week assignment window. Furthermore we would encourage parents to discuss ideas and concerns during team meetings.
If a student is scheduled for a Specialist or ELL/ESL teacher (Art, PE, World Language, Music, ESL) on that day will they have assignments?
Students will have an assignment given to them by their Specialist teacher or it will be integrated into an already occurring assignment.
How much time should students plan on working on Distance Learning assignments?
While the students have the flexibility to break the assignments down into smaller parts due to the two week window to complete the given tasks, we do have guidelines of the total amount of time each Distance Learning experience should take.
Educators will provide assignments which meet the DESE definition of structured learning time. Assignments will be reasonable in length for the developmental age and grade level of students, and we are mindful of the unique opportunity for family time on school cancellation days. Emphasis is placed on the quality of learning experiences, not on quantity or compliance.
Estimated times for schoolwork completion per grade band will be:
• Kindergarten - Grade 1 – approximately 60 minutes
• Grades 2-3 - approximately 60-90 minutes
• Grades 4-5 - approximately 90-120 minutes
• Grades 6-8 – approximately 30 minutes per subject area that would have met on the canceled cycle day
• Grades 9-12 – approximately 30 minutes per subject area that would have met on the canceled cycle day
We recognize that these times do not equal a full class period/school day, but acknowledge that sustained and independent work, without the transition and social aspect of a regular school day, requires a heightened level of concentration.
What will happen to my student if he/she does not complete their extended learning assignments?
Students who do not complete their Distance Learning activity by the two week due date and have not made attempts to request, nor seek support from school personnel will be marked absent for the designated recovered day. If a student does not complete the work by the deadline, make-up work is not permitted due to the two-week window to complete the activities.