Flex learning menu for first graders

Flex learning menu for first graders. Submitted photo

After Red Wing Public Schools called its first flexible learning day on Dec.10 due to a winter storm, a few Republican Eagle readers have wondered what the at-home education entails.

Anne Robertson, communications manager, answered the top questions surrounding flexible learning days.

What is flexible learning?

Flexible learning involves a school day where RWPS will offer students access to online instruction or prepared activities provided by teachers. The goal is to minimize time lost due to inclement weather.

How are families notified?

When bad weather that previously would have resulted in a declared snow day, parents and guardians will receive an automated phone call or text via the School Messenger service indicating that school buildings will be closed but flexible learning will take place.

Note that flexible learning days are not advertised on TV news stations. The district does, however, notify the local newspaper and radio station.

What do students do on flexible learning days?

Students do not report to school, but engage in flexible learning activities as assigned.

Students in grades E-6 are assigned work from the Flexible Learning Tasks packet sent home with parents and guardians earlier this year. This work can be completed with or without technology and is due within a week. 

The packets are also linked on the district webpage to help those families who might have misplaced the lessons.

Students in grades 7-12 use district-provided devices and access lessons that teachers post in Google Classroom.

Since these are school days per the Minnesota Department of Education, teachers must take attendance. 

For grades 7-12, teachers submit attendance through the student information system. For grades E-6, the district tracks attendance through work completion.

Students whose family chooses not to participate are reported as absent. It is up to the school whether to consider this as an excused absence, according to Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.22, subdivision 12.

Do students have access to teachers?

Yes, staff are available to students on flexible learning days. 

Grades K-6 teachers, administrators and other licensed professionals will be available for virtual office hours and by email from 9-11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. 

Students in grades 7-12 will follow their regular schedule. Teachers and other licensed professionals will let students know their office hours and availability via a morning email or Google Classroom posting.

Is flexible learning another name for distance learning?

No, flexible learning expectations are different from distance learning. 

Flexible learning days are designed strictly for poor weather conditions and likely would be declared only one day at a time -- potentially early in the morning once travel conditions are known. The superintendent has authority to declare flexible learning days and snow days.

Distance learning, which became a household term due to the pandemic, tends to last several days or weeks, and students – regardless of grades – are expected to follow their schedule as if they were in school instead.

Under current rules, the School Board alone has the authority to declare distance learning.

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