Note: Corrales Comment’s story went to press the morning of the APS Board Meeting on August 19. The decision reached later that day was this, according to the APS website: “In an abundance of caution amid the contagious coronavirus, and after a lengthy discussion… that centered on keeping students and staff safe, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education voted Wednesday to extend remote learning through the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year.”

Back to school this year under Albuquerque Public Schools is not about a snazzy new backpack, but, more likely a more powerful router, and an upgraded laptop. Students all will be learning remotely, at least until September 8, including pupils at Corrales Elementary. Busy Principal Liv Baca-Hochhausler wrote that “we are trying to reinvent public education!”

Baca says she is “very excited about the online learning our teachers have designed for our Corrales Cubs. They’ve created virtual classrooms for students to learn asynchronously, conducted virtual parent teacher conferences, planned lessons to be delivered via Zoom or Google Meet, and prepared ‘analog’ homework packets so that students and their parents have access to pencil and paper learning in addition to the virtual world.”

Enrollment numbers at Corrales Elementary are down, but not by much, according to Baca, who says while “many families have chosen to homeschool their children during these chaotic times,” she looks forward to “welcoming their children back to school with open arms when it is safe to do so.”

 Acting APS Superintendent Scott Elder put it this way in his remarks online August 12. “Because we’re still dealing with a contagious virus, we are starting the school year in RED or remote learning. For how long? It may be a few weeks or longer before we can move to yellow, which is a combination of in-school and remote learning. We just don’t know right now. What we do know is that you, our students, deserve a good education, and so we need to work together to make the best of remote learning.”

APS is among the largest school districts in the United States, with about 82,000 students, 14,000 employees and 142 schools.

Some families have raced to enroll their offspring in what was APS’ online high school, or eCademy, now “in response to community demand,” expanded to “a full-time, online learning option for interested students in all grades this school year. The magnet school offers a comprehensive curriculum, a teacher-student ratio similar to traditional classrooms, district-provided technology for each enrolled student, and school-home partnerships to ensure student success.”

APS spokesperson Monica Armenta reported that “over 2,000 students had registered at eCademy as of August 11.” And the magnet school is welcoming applications from tech-savvy teachers. For information, see http://www.aps.edu/ schools/schools/ecademy-k-8-online-magnet. Armenta told Corrales Comment that “nothing is easy or familiar right now.” She was preparing material for an APS board meeting August 19, adding that “there were many, many moving parts” for that meeting.

Elder went on to write students that he was “genuinely sorry you can’t be at school right now. I never thought we’d start a school year from afar. But we have to keep you safe, we need to keep your teachers healthy, and we want to protect the well-being of your family.”

And he reminded pupils of this:  “Complete your assignments! When you’re not online, you’ll be given chapters and articles to read, topics to research, problems to solve, projects to work on, and much more —all to help you better understand the world around you.

“Show up to class every school day —even if it is online— ready to learn and participate. We are recommending that students have online instruction for at least three hours a day. You should be in front of your computer during that time, listening to your teacher, joining in the discussions, taking part in the activities, practicing problems.

And finally, “Do the work. That’s how you learn. Turn in your assignments. You will be graded during remote learning. Grading is not pass/fail as it was during the spring semester when the coronavirus unexpectedly disrupted the last few weeks of school.”

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