Pawhuska educators preparing distance learning materials

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

The superintendent of Pawhuska Public Schools said Monday that school district staff members will be working this week to prepare distance learning materials, so that instruction can resume next Monday, April 6.

This is the third consecutive week that Oklahoma public school students have been out of school. The first week without classes was the annual spring break, but the second week and the third one, now in progress, there have been no classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, March 30, there had been 11 positive tests for coronavirus infection in Osage County, but no deaths.

Pawhuska Superintendent David Cash said lesson materials will be made available to students a week at a time. Tutors and teachers will be available electronically for students and their parents to consult. The school district is also working to solve technical issues that might otherwise prevent some families from having the electronic capacity for distance learning.

“We are calling every person that we have a working number for,” Cash said, adding that email addresses are being used where working phone numbers are not available. “It’s really a case-by-case basis.”

Cash said he is aware that local churches may be helping with the electronic-access issue, and he cited First Baptist Church of Pawhuska as an example. He also said the school district has Chromebook laptop computers it can check out. In-building classes have been canceled for the remainder of the semester, so it is essential that all students be able to gain access to their lesson materials.

Looking into the future, beyond getting classes restarted, Cash said he and other district leaders have given some thought to the question of how to handle graduation for the Pawhuska High School Class of 2020.

“I’m not going to hold graduation until I know we can’t hold it,” Cash said. Graduation is scheduled for Friday, May 15. “I think people are jumping the gun on that.”

Cash also issued a letter Monday for families of Pawhuska Public Schools students. The letter offers families information about the school district’s “continuous learning plan,” and encourages parents and guardians of students to contact the schools.

The full text of Cash’s letter is as follows:

“Dear families:

“Our administrators, teachers and instructional support staff are working hard to develop a continuous learning plan that will help our students finish the school year strong. As you can imagine, this planning has presented its own set of trials, as most of it has occurred digitally or at a distance so we can protect ourselves just as you are at home. We will meet the challenge, however, because that’s what we do as Huskies. Our students deserve a learning plan that will help them grow academically this spring, and that is what we are determined to give them.

“The last few weeks have made me even more proud to be the superintendent of Pawhuska Schools. From our custodial staff working hard to disinfect our buildings and buses to our child nutrition workers making sure our students get a great breakfast and lunch, this community has worked to provide children with basic needs, as well as lift their spirits. All of this has occurred while Pawhuska residents and district employees have also taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we work together as a team.

“We know you and your child have many questions about what the remainder of the school year will be like. The purpose of this letter is to share what we know and to ask you for your help as we prepare for this significant transition. While this is not how we expected to end the school year, we believe our continuous learning plan will allow us to keep students on track, while also protecting what is most important – their health and well-being.

“A change of this magnitude will not occur without bumps in the road; however, with your help, I am confident we can offer the best services possible for our students. There are several ways that you can help us at this time:

“Contact Information​ – Please contact your child’s school to ensure we have the most up-to-date phone number, email and address on file for your family. This will be important so that we can communicate often. Please call 918- 287-1265 if your contact information is not correct. You should have received a phone call already! If not, please update your information.

“Office Hours​ – If you have questions about the remainder of the school year or you need assistance with something at the building, please call your child’s school office between the hours of 9-2, Monday-Friday. We are happy to assist you on a one-on-one basis so it is safe for you and members of our staff.

“Other Resources​ – Please visit our website at ​www.pawhuskadistrict.org​ for information about free breakfast and lunch for all children, as well as for resources regarding the prevention of COVID-19.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our teachers and staff, we will resume services to students on 4-6-2020 using our continuous learning plan. We understand this ongoing instruction cannot be delivered through a one-size-fits-all approach. We hope as you read the information below you can see how we are working to help meet the needs of all students:

“Elementary Learning Plan

“Your teacher will contact you and explain how your academic plan will look and what is needed from you. The majority of your time and effort will be in the areas of reading and math. Tutors will be available during the day for students struggling with assignments or tasks. Your teacher will keep E-office hours as well so they can answer any of your questions as well as help your student. They will notify you in a communication by the end of this week what those hours are and how to access them. Parents, you can help your child retain and expand these skills by simple tasks at home. Have your child help you cook. They can see how you use measurement to prepare cookies or other baked items. Have them read everyday!

“Middle School Learning Plan

“Your student will be assigned a Mentor teacher that will check in with them daily. The mentor teacher will be in contact with you and your child this week. Our main concern is addressing reading and math skills. Your student’s teachers will be providing learning opportunities through a variety of methods. Grades will not be the main focus of teachers; skills and knowledge will be the main emphasis.

“High School Learning Plan

“Your high school students will be assigned a mentor teacher. This teacher will be contacting your student daily to see if they need any help and make sure your student can access lessons. The teachers of courses in critical areas, namely english and math, will make assignments and lessons designed for students to finish the coursework for credit. Science, social studies, computer science, etc. will be providing learning opportunities that will give students a chance to improve their grade as well as supplement prior learning. Teachers in english and math will have E-office hours each day for tutoring. All teachers will be available via email.

“Special Education Plan

“Your special education teacher will be in contact with you to explain how we will proceed with your child’s education. Each of these situations is different and will require different approaches to be successful​.

“Schools are at their best when the community works together, and now is the perfect time for us to shine. You were and continue to be your child’s first and most important teacher. While our faculty and staff will be leading the way, we know you will be encouraging, supporting and teaching your child side-by-side with us.

“We miss our students terribly, but we are trying to make the best of the situation for everyone. Thank you for helping us rise to this challenge. We could not do it without you.

“Sincerely,

David Cash

Superintendent”