At the beginning of the school year, Savion Romero never imagined his senior year at Englewood High School would take the turn that it has due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Romero doesn’t get to do the …
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At the beginning of the school year, Savion Romero never imagined his senior year at Englewood High School would take the turn that it has due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Romero doesn’t get to do the activities that most teenagers in their last year of high school get to do, like go to prom or feel the joy of finishing the last day of high school with friends.
Instead of sitting through classes at Englewood High School, Romero is spending his final days of high school sitting in front of a computer for online schooling.
“I guess you could say that I feel cheated a little bit,” Romero said about his final year of high school.
Like others in Englewood Schools, Romero will not attend in-person classes for the rest of the semester.
In a joint April 3 letter to community members from 14 Denver metro area school districts, Englewood Schools Superintendent Wendy Rubin announced that the district will continue remote learning for the remainder of the semester.
“What we do know is that once the (stay-at-home order is) lifted, we will continue to have restrictions on social distancing and the size of group gatherings for at least several weeks, if not months. Given the nature of a school environment (classrooms, passing periods, buses, playgrounds, etc.), these restrictions are not practical within the school setting,” the April 3 letter reads. “As such, there does not appear to be a viable way for us to convene traditional in-person learning this school year.”
As Englewood Schools has formally acknowledged that its students will not be returning to classrooms this year, the school district has kicked off online learning.
Englewood Schools Chief Academic Officer Joanna Polzin said the school district’s teachers are teaching 30-minute class periods for every subject area, including electives. The school district is utilizing remote learning providers like Google Classroom for children in grades two through 12 and Seesaw for children in kindergarten and first grade.
The expectation is that teachers are posting instructions on a daily basis, Tuesday through Friday, Polzin said. That instruction can include a preloaded video that can be as long as 15 minutes. The remainder of the class period can be used for an assignments or activities that align with the direct instruction. Mondays are used for teacher professional development days.
Teachers are required to take attendance on a daily basis, Polzin said. Online learning kicked off for Englewood Schools on April 1, and the district says attendance has been on par compared to normal, in-person school.
“The energy is good with regard to kids logging in, kids wanting to be part of school still and students wanting to continue to participate. Teachers are motivated to connect and to continue learning, and principals are excited to continue this journey with their staff, students and families,” said Polzin.
Aside from learning, Englewood Schools has provided mental health resources like “Mindful Mondays” for Englewood High School where students can set up an online video meeting with a school counselor or psychologist. Teachers are also setting up times for students to participate in an online video meeting and ask questions.
Some Englewood Schools teachers are getting creative with their online teaching, such as Heather Maskalenko, a physical education teacher for Bishop Elementary School.
Maskalenko shoots video of herself in her front yard doing workouts with household items like paper towels and tissue boxes. Once she is done, she uploads her workout video to either Google Classroom or Seesaw. Maskalenko’s students then either take pictures or videos of themselves doing her workouts.
An example of one of Maskalenko’s workouts is using a tissue box while doing high knees. The object of the workout is for knees to hit the tissue box while doing the exercise.
“Getting out and moving will help them with their studies, but it also helps them have a healthy body and a healthy mind. I miss my students, I really do,” said Maskalenko. “Personally, I am not a tech person at all. This has been a huge leap for me, but I’ve learned a lot in embracing it. It has been fun, and I am just looking forward to learning as much as I can and advancing my tech skills.”
As for Romero, he says while online learning is different, he is getting adjusted to a new way of learning.
“I miss the hands-on learning, but I mostly miss the teachers. You can’t do anything about it though,” he said.
Other Englewood Schools news
Englewood Schools is still monitoring the situation regarding its graduation ceremonies and will wait a few weeks before making a determination, said Rubin. She said in all likelihood, graduation ceremonies will be postponed until at least mid-summer, if not later into the year.
“Our intent is to have an in-person graduation ceremony as soon as it is safe to do so. We believe that it is very important and a once-in-a-lifetime celebration,” said Rubin in a phone call with the Englewood Herald on April 2.
Englewood Schools is still providing breakfast and lunch grab-and-go meals at Cherrelyn Elementary and Bishop Elementary from noon to 2 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. As of April 1, more than 1,800 meals have been served to Englewood Schools students, according to Julie McMorris, a spokesperson for the school district.
“I love seeing families are taking advantage of that. People are just so gracious, patient, funny and kind,” said Rubin. “I think that is very gratifying, and I am very glad to be part of Englewood Schools.”
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