Andrew Withers: Rolling out the red carpet to improve student instruction |

Andrew Withers: Rolling out the red carpet to improve student instruction

Bell Hill Academy student and staff arriving on campus via “The Red Carpet!”
Provided photo

The Grass Valley School District is launching a feasibility study to determine how we can better support our students, families and community. As a collaborative district and staff team we continue to examine our instructional program and practices while reviewing the shifting state guidelines regulating in-person instruction. Over the next few weeks, we will be conducting a study at our schools to inform our practices and programs. We are considering how we could safely combine our current Cohort A and B groups into a single in-person student group which would allow us to provide in-person instruction four days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday —Wednesdays would remain distance learning for everyone). If we are able to make this shift, this change would take place sometime after Spring Break. This work is critical as March 13 was the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 school closures.

Andrew Withers

“School closures have had negative impacts on children’s health, education and development, family income and the local economy,” said Nicole Klimek, parent with students at Bell Hill Academy. “And I feel that GVSD has done an impeccable job at showing us they know how to keep staff, students and teachers safe with the hybrid school model. The benefits of moving to a four day a week schedule for our community and our children, in my opinion, far outweigh the possible risks. I trust our teachers, staff and school district completely with the safety of my children.”

“It has been extremely challenging to learn online for some students, and we are excited about the possibility of offering students increased in-person time with their teachers,” said Heather Graham, principal at Bell Hill Academy.

Our three non-charter school sites (Bell Hill Academy, Margaret G. Scotten Elementary and Lyman Gilmore MIddle) will be reaching out to families to gather input regarding a commitment to a four-day in person learning schedule or to a fully online learning schedule for the remainder of the school year. Grass Valley School District leadership will provide all families with final updates after we have collected and evaluated this information. In the event that we have more families that want their children to come to school than we have space, we may need to develop priority criteria, however, we will do our best to make accommodations. Please note that our Grass Valley Charter School campus already provides four days of in-person instruction in an AM/PM model, however, they are also studying how a schedule change may better support their students’ instructional program.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, however, it is important that we continue to leverage and implement new strategies based on what we have learned over the last year. We know how to safely provide in-person instruction on our campuses and online only instruction is not working for many students and families. The Grass Valley School District will continue to follow all social distancing, sanitation, and mask policies with fidelity. We look forward to continuing to work together as a staff and community and we appreciate our families for their patience, trust and partnership. (#GVSDBetterTogether)

Andrew Withers is the Grass Valley School District Superintendent.

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