Most people in local school communities seem satisfied with the work the district and their schools have put in to cope with what has been a different school year due to COVID-19.
The district conducted a survey among parents, guardians, staff and students from across the district for a couple of weeks in February. It was designed to get a thorough response to issues arising for schools during this school year.
“I know many have had discussions amongst school staff and amongst their school community,” superintendent Tom Demeo told trustees at the latest school board meeting.
In all, the district received 3,599 responses to the survey. Of these, 55.4 per cent of responses came from students, 32.6 per cent from parents or guardians and about 17 per cent from staff, though in some cases they are also parents.
“This report will be posted in its entirety on the website,” the superintendent said. “Each school was given access to their specific school report and their school results.”
Generally, as Demeo said, people supported the health and safety efforts the district has made in response to COVID-19.
“Those results are there, they’re very encouraging,” he said.
The survey also touched on the educational experience this year for students at elementary and secondary, such as putting students in cohorts at school or changing the blocks systems for older students.
Parents and guardians were asked about safety protocols, signs and the availability of sanitizer, hand-washing stations and masks at schools. A large majority were either neutral or agreed the efforts were effective.
As far as classwork at secondary, they were asked about changes such as the longer learning blocks, flex block opportunities and the access to technology and appropriate academic learning materials. More seemed to feel students had access to the materials and technology but were more divided on the schedule. For example, the numbers were close among those who strongly agreed or strongly disagreed that children enjoyed the longer blocks or preferred the quarter system to the regular semester system. Most were either neutral or agreed, though not strongly.
There were similar questions concerning elementary classes, such as whether children enjoyed the cohort model. More than half were neutral or agreed, though almost 30 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed that their child enjoyed the cohort model.
More than 80 per cent felt they were getting regular communication from the teacher or school.
Staff members were asked similar questions, with more preference for previous schedules than the longer blocks at secondary, and many agreed they had changed or adapted their teaching for the quarter system this year. In elementary, the numbers concerning whether students enjoyed the cohort model were roughly split.
Other questions concerned lockers, extra-curricular activities and mental health supports.
As far as students, most felt the schools provided a safe, clean learning environment. At secondary, many students seemed to adjust to the quarter system, with more than half saying it met their learning needs, though they seemed to like the longer learning blocks more for elective classes than for core academic classes. Most also agreed or strongly agreed that they were aware of their school’s academic and mental health supports.