Seven questions about what New Bedford area schools do when the power goes out
Originally Published on www.southcoasttoday.com
By Kerri Tallman
Area systems have different approaches when remote learning students can’t get online
NEW BEDFORD — With strong winds taking out power across Greater New Bedford several times in the past few weeks, some schools are devising policies for helping remote students whose power went on their lessons.
The Standard-Times has asked schools in the area how they plan to tackle power outages and remote learning. Here are our questions:
– These outages may not just be due to weather conditions, but possibly due to any instance in which electricity is cut for many remote students. What do the students do in this situation?
– How is the technology used for remote learning affected?
– Are students marked absent?
– Do the parents need to write a note excusing their absence?
– How much time will be given to make up the work?
– For teachers who are teaching remotely, what if they cannot connect to internet? How will they communicate with the students about a canceled lesson?
– With harsh winter conditions, what will snow days look like with remote learning? For in-person students, if school is canceled, will they stay home and continue to learn remotely with the other remote students?
Alma del Mar Charter School
Alma del Mar is primarily remote, with a small group of scholars attending school in person. Becca Kurie, director of development, said the school encourages staff and families to be in regular communication so as to ensure that scholars and families are supported fully. Written documentation for any absence is not required during remote learning. Kurie said there is no set guideline to make up the work, however the teachers have been encouraged to work closely with families to ensure scholars feel supported in their learning.
In the case that a teacher cannot teach remotely, Kurie said the school has support staff who may be able to cover for a teacher, and Alma’s teachers are also able to arrange to work out of their classroom onsite if needed.
While no policy has been put in place for winter conditions, Alma is prepared to transition to complete remote learning in instances of planned closures, like with the upcoming general election when Alma’s Ottiwell Campus is a polling place.
Dartmouth Public Schools
In a prepared statement, Superintendent Dr. Bonny Gifford said: “It is a given that technology issues may arise from time to time. We have already experienced challenges with students’ devices or because the internet is down.
Each episode is dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. Specific to power outages, our district is prepared to address this situation as it would any other; with understanding and flexibility. Just last week, because of the high winds that swept through the area, we noted several areas of town were left without power. Teachers were notified that some students might not be able to log into their remote classroom. In response, teachers would certainly provide those students with the help and time they needed to catch up and complete assignments.”
Fairhaven Public Schools
Did not return Standard-Times’ requests for comment.
Diocese of Fall River
According to Denise Peixoto, assistant superintendent for the Diocese of Fall River Catholic schools, remote students who cannot access the internet due to power outages are not penalized even though attendance is taken.
For the past three years, the Catholic schools have utilized “structured alternative learning” for snow days where attendance was taken.
Students unable to gain access due to power outages usually had offline work available to them. With COVID, there are a number of students who attend school remotely full time; thus, the inability to gain access due to power outages is being addressed at the diocesan level prior to the advent of inclement weather.
Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School
Superintendent James O’Brien said the school does not hold students accountable for winter conditions. “We work with kids to support their needs and we need to be extremely flexible,” he said. “We have both synchronous and asynchronous learning, and we adjust due dates for assignments.” Voc-Tech works with a tech team and has provided hot spots for homes for families who do not have access to Wi-Fi. The school uses School Messenger for texts, calls to parents, and weekly correspondence to inform families.
Global Learning Public Charter School
Last week students experienced outages all across the city starting at 7:00-7:30 a.m. Executive Director Stephen Furtado, Sr. said it was a completely asynchronized day. The school alerted staff to provide asynchronized lessons and notified families via ConnectEd and Remind through phone calls and texts. Since the school is completely remote, teachers who had access to internet were still teaching. Attendance was not taken. Furtado said that the school offered technical help for those who had problems with their home network; however if it’s a problem with Comcast, they cannot control the issue. Students are given two days per day they are out to make up the missed work.
New Bedford Public Schools
In a prepared statement, Arthur Motta, community and public affairs manager for the system, said that students are given a reasonable amount of time from teachers to make up work for any excuse of absence, according to the system’s Office of Instruction.
Motta said that it is important to remember that remote learning is not synonymous with online learning. Distance learners may have hard copy books, workbooks, notebooks or other materials that support learning in addition to technology. If longterm disruption occurs, that is handled on an as-needed basis.