MIDDLEBURY — Though Middlebury Community Schools has a few big changes this year — most notably the introduction of e-learning days — nothing should come as a surprise. Teachers, students and staff have been aware of the alternative to snow days since the strategy was unveiled in May; and the e-learning plan was approved by the school board in June.
"That's the biggest deal right now," said MCS Superintendent Jane Allen. “... The high school will be made up day-of, so if there’s a snow day Monday, students will see assignments posted and students will have 48 hours to complete them.”
Since Northridge High School will launch its 1-to-1 (one device for one child) program this year by distributing Chromebooks, Allen said those students will be expected to complete e-learning work sooner. For younger students, kindergarten through eighth grade, "If an event is on a Monday, teachers will post (assignments) on Thursday and the assignment will be due the next Monday at midnight."
Allen indicated the school district will do everything it can to ensure students receive enough time and assistance opportunities to complete the electronic learning tasks. Labs will be open after school for students to work on assignments, and buses will be available to transport the children home.
"We want to take care of the folks that don't have access, that don't have devices at home," she said, adding the high school students who receive Chromebooks will not initially be permitted to take them home for evenings and weekends. Instead, they will use them during classes. "It's a technology refresh," she said.
HIGH SCHOOL BLOCK SCHEDULE
This year, Northridge High School will implement a modified block schedule. While students alternated classes every day in the past, this year the teenagers will have one set of classes Monday and Wednesday, another set Tuesday and Thursday, followed by a schedule of all classes on Friday. The Friday schedule will also include Student Resource Time (SRT), a traditional homeroom atmosphere with a teacher who will see the students each week from freshman year until graduation.
"We think Friday, that gathering with everybody, will help for many reasons," said Allen. "I think mostly it's because the students needs someone to at least ... monitor how things are going, help them throughout whenever there's issues, not just in school and academics, but mentally."
Allen said one change will only affect a few students, but should still be noted. Parents picking up students at the end of the day at Northridge Middle School will have a longer wait.
Parents must now line up at the north football field entrance and line up. The will be allowed to approach the school only after the buses have departed.
"Hopefully it will make it a lot safer for everybody," Allen said. "... When the buses leave, the cars will line up single-file and students will leave individually."
Other safety measures will operate the same as in previous years. Though the district has acquired metal detectors — one for ever 250 students — they will not be used unless deemed necessary, according to Allen.
“We’re being very diligent with our safety committee … We do have things in place," she said.
The district has one school resource officer, Jeremy Shotts, who is housed at the high school. Shotts visits the other buildings on an as-needed basis.
Allen said, “He’s a relationship-builder. Kids come to him and tell him when things are going on. Not only for prevention, but he really cares about them and talks to them. He talks to them when they struggle, you know, he’s not a bad guy, he’s a good guy. And I know the kids really appreciate him.”
Leandra Beabout can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 314.
The 2018/19 school year begins Wednesday and ends May 30, 2019. Students are scheduled to have no school on the following dates:
Sept. 3, Labor Day
Oct. 26-29, Fall break
Nov. 21-23, Thanksgiving break
Dec. 24- Jan. 7, Christmas break
Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Feb. 18, Presidents Day
March 29, Conference day
April 1-5, Spring break
April 19, Good Friday
May 27, Memorial Day