by Mike Knaak
The Sartell-St. Stephen school district received almost 1,500 responses to a survey on distance learning and the preliminary responses show encouraging results but also give educators some issues to focus on if distance learning returns in the fall.
About 60 percent of parents responded the amount of work assigned was “just right” with about an equal percentage of remaining responses reporting “too much” or “too little.”
Almost three quarters of students engaged in distance learning between 7 a.m.-1 p.m., the results showed. By contrast, only 7.6 percent of students worked between 7-10 p.m.
About half of all students reported spending between two and four hours a day on their studies.
Assistant Superintendent Kay Nelson shared the results during a June 15 school board meeting and she noted to board members that the survey was still open for responses.
Board member Pam Raden commented the results were “looking pretty good, better than I anticipated.” Nelson said she was happy that so many families took time to respond.
Responses were pretty evenly spread among all buildings and grade levels.
School leaders were continually concerned about communication once distance learning began on March 30 and continued through the end of the school year.
The survey showed 81.4 percent of respondents described the amount of communication as “just right.” Adequate communication and feedback from teachers was about evenly split between “all,” “most” and “some” of a student’s teachers.
On the topic of adjusting to distance learning, 46.1 percent reported “doing well,” 42 percent reported “we struggled with adjustments but overall we managed” and 11.8 percent “struggled greatly and could have used some additional support.”
Overall, 40.7 percent of respondents judged distance learning as “good” and 35.8 percent rated it “fair.”
Sartell-St. Stephen school leaders will begin preliminary plans for fall during July in anticipation of final guidelines from the Department of Education expected the week of July 27. Then detailed planning will begin.
The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education released what they described as “contingency” planning guidelines. The state agencies encouraged districts to plan for three scenarios:
• Return all students to school buildings following the most current Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
• Return students to school buildings implementing a hybrid model following the most current Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines.
• No students return to school buildings. Implement a distance learning model.