Families adjust to school at home, District adds lunch pick-up location

Lennox School District is providing weekly Education Plans to families in the School District as schools will remain closed across the state until May 1 following the recommendation of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. The closure is to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In the latest Education Plan, the School District said they will continue to offer a grab-and-go sack lunch and breakfast to all K-12 students during the week between the hours of 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Locations for pick-up now include four options: Lennox Elementary, Worthing Elementary, Chancellor Reformed Parking Lot, and the Corner of W. 26th Street and S. Katie Ave. in Sioux Falls.

The Lennox School District held a Special meeting on Monday, March 30 via teleconference.

Superintendent Chad Conaway began by saying “This has moved pretty quickly…since the start of last Monday the principals have been doing online learning plans.”

He also noted that students were able to get through three full quarters prior to having to leave school and that the students were close to meeting the required instructional hours prior to the school closure.

Jr. High and High School principal, Chad Allison, said the teachers are using Microsoft teams or email to communicate with students; he also noted the students have used those platforms during the year and are familiar with them.

“We are monitoring and documenting student participation,” said Allison, “And we are reaching out to those who are not.”

Teachers have posted office hours and are monitoring their emails. There is also tech service available for those who need it.

Allison said the school is working on moving Drivers’ Education to an online format for the instructional portion either late May or early June and is hoping to conduct the driving portion as normal as possible if allowed in late summer.

Allison noted they are also looking at tutorials to show students and parents how to register for high school classes. They are hoping to hold summer meetings to review schedules.

Lennox Elementary and Intermediate Principal, Darin Eich, said they are in their second week of choice boards with the plan to move to distance lesson plans next week. This will include four things each day the student will be required to complete. The activities will last between 20-30 minutes each. He noted the staff has office hours of 8-4 during the week and are instructed to check their email every day and correspond with students and parents. Teachers are also utilizing ZOOM to touch base with the students.

Worthing principal, Kym Poppenga-Smith, said Worthing is doing the same instruction plan as Lennox. She also noted that they are providing professional development for teachers once a week that specifically supports distant learning.

Laura Welch spoke about the Special Education teachers. They are using Team platforms and creating special education groups assigned to reach out to every family one time per week. She noted they are supporting IEPs through the best of their abilities.

She noted they are trying to service through communication services like ZOOM and by making phone calls to parents. Welch is also meeting with teachers once a week.

Before action items were discussed, Conaway noted that the District touched based with all families in order to connect with them and see if they had access to internet and devices in their home.

“We are fortunate that we do not have too many families without those items and those that are without it, we will get them a device,” said Conaway.

Board president Alan Rops commended the administration for what they have done and for their strong plan moving forward.

Conaway also added, “This has provided us an opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and look at technology and teaching in a different way.”

With discussion finished, the board approved the Notification of School Closing with Plan to Instruct During Closure. Conaway noted the form would be filled out and completed at the end of the closure as directed by the Department of Education.

“I feel this is the only thing we can do at this moment,” said Conaway. “Even when May 1 rolls around we aren’t sure they are going to allow us back; we are going to have to embrace this new way of learning and keep getting better and use this as a replacement of our instructional hours.”

Before adjournment, Conaway stated the regular meeting in April will likely be conducted via teleconference as well.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:52 p.m.

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