AISD schools to begin remote learning on April 6

Netiquette to follow live online classes starting April 6 using Zoom.

Cade Spencer, Managing Editor

Since the AISD school facilities were closed on March 13, students have had no required school attendance or activities. However, on April 2, Bowie Principal Mark Robinson sent an email to all Bowie parents and students declaring that mandatory educational participation would resume on Monday, April 6 in the form of remote learning. 

“The focus for the upcoming week will be checking-in with students, identifying any student resource or tech needs, discussing the Bulldog Netiquette & Expectations, and training students to use some virtual learning tools,” Robinson wrote in his public email. “[Students will also be] engaging in some Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) activities, reviewing course content, and having opportunities to submit make-up work or complete grade remediation activities from the period prior to Spring Break.”

In order to help ease the transition to online learning, students will be receiving no new grades in the first week of remote education from April 6 to April 10. No further update on the grading policy for the remainder of the Spring semester has been announced. 

“I feel good about school starting again,” sophomore Kylee Dinwiddie said. “I think that it is smart for the school to start up again instead of cancelling the rest of the semester because students may have trouble learning next year if we haven’t learned the needed content for the rest of this semester”

As displayed in a schedule included in the email, teachers will be offering optional live instruction at allotted times through applications such as Zoom and BLEND Conferences. The referenced schedule can also be viewed within this story.

“I think [live instruction] will help me because any information they give is valuable, but I just do not think I will personally learn as well from the videos,” junior Alex Johnson said. “I think posting paper assignments and notes on BLEND would be helpful so you can learn the information in an alternate way if you need to.”

As  indicated in the remote learning schedule, students will continue to follow their block schedule for the remainder of the Spring semester. 

“I like the proposed schedule,” Dinwiddie said. “I think it was built in consideration for the students and what they need right now – school time, but also time to have for themselves.”

Photo by: Courtesy of AISD

Although virtual office hours have been allotted from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM, teachers will be meeting with their Professional Learning Community (PLC) to plan their additional office hours and tutoring times.

“By attending live instruction not only will students have the opportunity to clarify their academic understanding, but also stay connected socially to their teachers and potentially peers,” Robinson said. “Positive social interaction and a collectivist culture – a sense of belonging to a group – releases oxytocin which reduces cortisol levels, reinforces learning.” 

Although students will be continuing the normal block schedule from Monday to Thursday, Friday has been dedicated to FLEX Time, which consists of time for PLC meetings, teacher-parent conferences, and tutoring assistance.

“I think that flex time is a great idea,” Dinwiddie said. “I think it will help students to catch up on what they are learning and have more time to study what they are learning so that they have a good understanding of it.

Throughout the first week of remote learning, students will be expected to read and understand the Bowie Netiquette, which describes the expected behavior of students on online platforms.

“Netiquette is not very different from normal classroom etiquette,” Robinson said. “Both require awareness and good social skills, but Netiquette requires some understanding of the tools available to us in the online classroom.”

Photo by: Cade Spencer

Although Robinson is excited for curriculum instruction to begin, his top priority the first week of instruction is to ensure that all students have been seen and  given assistance if they are having any physical or emotional difficulties. If a student does need emotional support, Robinson expressed that they should reach out to a counselor, trusted adult, or the Bowie Virtual Vida which is offering online counseling via tele-therapy. 

My hopes for this transition are that it is a smooth one and that students have the ability, time, and space to connect to online learning,” Robinson said. “We won’t be able to do everything we had planned for the end of the school year, however I hope that we can salvage as much as we can, knowing that it will be way more than we would have been able to do as few as 7 or 15 years ago.”

In an effort to create unity and a bond in this time of transition, the Bowie Dispatch will be hosting a virtual spirit week from April 6 to April 10. To read more about the virtual spirit week and the themes for each day, check the JBHS Instagram @jbhs_dispatch or view our story here.

“I saw other schools around the country doing this, and I thought what a great way to try to bring a little fun to our first week back,” Dispatch adviser Michael Reeves said. “I figured we had the largest social media reach on campus, so I got approval from Mr. Robinson, and set my kids on it. I hope everyone has some fun with it.”