CONWAY — Many school districts around the state are moving to four days of remote learning a week instead of the current five.
For example, SAU 13, which covers Freedom Elementary School in Freedom, Madison Elementary School in Madison and the K.A. Brett School in Tamworth, is turning Wednesdays into “choose your own adventure” days.
The New Hampshire School Boards, N.H. Association of School Principals, N.H. Association of Special Education Administrators, N.H. Career and Technical Education Directors, N.H. Education Association and N.H. School Administrators Association all support a four-day education week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The associations recommend five steps, the first being to go to a four-day-per-week model, saying it is "responsive to parent and student feedback respecting the new demands on families and the related worry and anxiety" of the pandemic.
In addition they said it would give teachers one day per week to work on outreach, planning, preparation or attend to other needs related to remote instruction.
“Now that (Gov. Chris Sununu) has indicated that remote learning will continue for several more weeks until May 4, it seemed appropriate to begin thinking about pivoting from short-term emergency response to long-term balanced implementation,” wrote Dr. Carl Ladd, executive director N.H. School Administrators Association on March 27.
SAu 13 Superintendent Meredith Nadeau wrote to families on April 3, explaining the district's plans for remote learning. “Remote learning is not intended to be home-schooling, nor can it match the experience provided in our schools,” she wrote. “We have reconsidered how to make this more manageable and sustainable for everyone.
"Beginning (this week), we will have Wednesdays be a ‘choose your own adventure’ day for students (and families)."
Nadeau said Wednesdays can be used to catch up on any prior learning, spend time reviewing and practicing previously taught material, extending learning into new areas or discovering something new like cooking or learning a new skill.
"Make this time work for your child and your family," she said. "The time is intended to reduce stress, not add to it."
She said further guidance would come from principals.
SAU 9 — which serves Kennett High, Kennett Middle, Conway Elementary, John H. Fuller Elementary and Pine Tree Elementary in Conway, Josiah Bartlett Elementary School in Bartlett and Jackson Grammar School in Jackson — is staying the course on five days of traditional schoolwork a week.
Superintendent Kevin Richard said while the district will continue with five days a week of education, plans are in the works to build in time to provide support for teachers. “The big thing is, let’s make sure we do it thoughtfully and address what’s needed,” he said.
Richard is envisioning a four-hour block each week for collaboration among administrators and teachers. During that time, paraprofessionals from the schools or possibly from outside agencies will connect with the students.
“Students say they’re missing the social piece and the opportunity to interact with each other,” Richard said, indicating programs will be designed to engage the students while the teachers are conferencing.
Richard believes daily contact with students “is essential.” “The last thing we want to do is not connect with a student for a whole day,” he said.
The educators' associations also recommended guidelines for maximum student commitment each day, as follows: pre-K, 30 minutes; kindergarten-first grade, 45 minutes; grades 2-3, 60 minutes; grades 4-5, 90 minutes; and grades 6-12, 30 minutes per teacher for a maximum of three hours per day.