Lawton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Hime responded to questions posed by parents this week, as the district makes plans to return to classes Aug. 21.
Following are a sampling of the questions:
Will virtual lessons still be hands-on learning?
Hime: District personnel will be flexible. Hime said the idea is aligning curricula because it is critical virtual students are doing the same work as classroom students are. The district is looking at different platforms to find those that best meet the needs of students. “The goal is to introduce new standards, new skills at same time they are introduced in the classroom,” Hime said, explaining students who begin the year online then want to return to a traditional classroom, or step out of the classroom for a few weeks then return, will have a seamless merge. “Learning is the thing we want to emphasize. It won’t be the distance learning we did last year, when we were just trying to maintain work for students to do.” He said this year’s virtual classes will involve new standards and new skills, where learning learning will take place.
Will parents still have the ability to interact with teachers in virtual classrooms?
Hime: The district will assign teachers to students, and student and parents will interact with that teacher. Parents will have an email address and various other forms of communication methods, so students can get immediate help if they experience a problem. “We’ll work to improve communications,” he said, adding the district is working to make “online as much as face-to-face as we can.”
Why aren’t elementary students offered a blended model (education) option?
Hime: Hybrid (learning takes place in traditional classroom settings but some virtual days are possible) can be the blended model (traditional and online classes are offered) for the elementary level. Hime said the blended model is more about the extracurricular activities that secondary students engage in, something that elementary students do not have.
Will students be part of individual schools, or just an LPS student?
Hime: Students will stay with their home schools. “We want to keep your identity, especially if you are virtual,” he said. “We all hope and pray that at some point we are back at what we consider normal. It’s important for us to get there. We want you to keep your identity, where students feel they belong to certain schools.”
What does online look like, as far as school hours?
Hime: It depends on the age of the student and the process will be flexible. LPS wants to have teachers available for later hours and is exploring that option, Hime said. Many virtual classes will be self paced, and, especially for older students, the district wants teachers to be available to give help when students are “in” class.
If LPS requires masks, will the district provide them?
Hime: The district already is looking at buying a supply of paper masks, including smaller ones for younger children, and Hime anticipates that administrators will recommend masks be worn. “There are parents who will expect to wear masks,” he said, of returning students. Hime said many parents already have personal masks for their children to wear, as do district staff. They may wear personal masks, but the district will have disposable paper masks in a variety of sizes for those who don’t have them or forget them.
What is appropriate for masks; for example, can a mask have patterns?
Hime: “That will get into dress code issues,” he said, explaining that if a student comes to school with an inappropriate mask, the school administrators will deal with it. Disposable masks will be available so no one is sent home because their mask is inappropriate.
Will there be sanitation of outdoor equipment?
Hime: District custodians will disinfect playground equipment and there will be more disinfecting on a daily basis. “Outside is not as concerning as inside, but we will disinfect,” Hime said.
What about breakfast and lunch?
Hime: All secondary students will be offered a breakfast break between first and second period, and schools will set social distancing guidelines in place for students for all meals. Students at the elementary level will be eating in classrooms or smaller groups; at the secondary level, pre-packaged meals will be given to students to eat the gym or other areas where they can social distance. The child nutrition program is looking at ways to provide meals for virtual students.