Press Club

APS Plan to Delay Teaching New Material Until Fall Irks Some Parents

On Thursday, Arlington Public Schools revealed its plan for resuming remote learning following spring break, which ends today.

The summary: given the difficulty in ensuring that all students can learn new concepts at home during coronavirus pandemic, nothing new will be taught through the remainder of the school year.

“Resuming April 14, teachers will reinforce previously introduced learning from the first three marking periods to ensure all students have mastered key concepts,” APS said on its website. “Students will also have opportunities to enrich and extend their learning through a variety of activities.”

For grades 3 and above, students have their own school issued electronic devices — iPads and laptops — and will participate in the enrichment activities electronically. For grades 2 and below, parents will receive monthly packets of learning materials.

More from an APS email to parents:

APS is fortunate that our students in grades 3-12 have their own devices, which allows us to deliver learning opportunities to them in a streamlined and efficient manner. As part of our commitment to ensuring equity of access to new learning for all students, concepts that students would have normally learned during the fourth quarter will be introduced in September, at the start of the 2020-21 school year. […]

As students in grades PreK-2 do not have APS-provided devices, their plan is a packet of learning activities for the month of April. The materials will be available electronically through ParentVUE in the Documents section on Monday, April 13. Printed packets will also be available for pick-up at APS grab-and-go meal sites starting on April 13. The learning packet for May will be available later this month.

The idea of students being stuck at home and not learning anything new, while parents scramble to try to act as de facto homeschool teachers, is not sitting well with some.

“Parents are fired up,” one teacher told ARLnow. “General consensus is: This plan is a joke, especially for K-2 students.”

The APS plan is a hot topic on the DC Urban Moms and Dads message board, with about 150 messages posted to a thread from Thursday entitled “If not everyone can learn, no one should learn (APS).”

“This new APS plan really irks me,” wrote one parent. “I don’t expect them to do all-day virtual classroom. But a choice board that lumps together K-2nd graders? That’s ridiculous. Other school districts far larger than ours — that pay FAR less per student– have figured out a way to actually teach kids. It’s ridiculous that ours can’t even figure out a way to do lessons by grade.”

In a letter to parents, the principal of Jamestown Elementary said educators are making the most of a difficult situation.

“As teachers, we want children to enjoy and be engaged in learning too,” wrote Principal Michelle McCarthy. “Trust that we will do the best we can to make that happen while also strengthening skills previously taught to prepare them to start with fourth quarter skills when we return in September.”

“Please be reassured that students will continue to learn and grow as they reinforce skills that were introduced but not yet mastered when we unexpectedly left school on March 13,” she added “There are many skills that need continued practice. Together, we can use this as an opportunity to strengthen foundations of learning.”

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