GEA Support for D304 Calendar Changes
The members of the Geneva Education Association would like to express their support for the first semester changes to the school calendar recently adopted by the Board of Education. All groups and members involved in coming to this decision are very sensitive to the impact that any change in calendar has for the families of our students. This email is meant to explain how these changes came about and why these changes are needed to make the educational experience the best it can be for Geneva students under these circumstances.
Early in the process of creating the hybrid model for Geneva, concerns were expressed that the model might prove overly ambitious and would be difficult to sustain over an entire school year. This was primarily due to the fact that the Geneva hybrid had less planning time built into the schedule than hybrid models that other districts adopted. That said, GEA leadership, District Administration, and School Board members, wanted to maximize the in-person educational experience for students and were committed to it with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent during the first weeks of school that educators were overwhelmed trying to juggle the demands of in-person instruction, off site learning, and online only learning. In addition, the challenges of keeping quarantined students and students struggling to engage/navigate in these new models on pace with the rest of the student body created a significant struggle in delivering curriculum.
How Was This Decision Made?
As teachers became aware of the unsustainable nature of the schedule, The GEA engaged in discussions with District Administrators to resolve the competing interests of maximizing in-person learning vs providing opportunities for teachers to develop effective lessons and to provide students with targeted learning interventions. These discussions resulted in various models being developed and evaluated. The model that best balanced these competing imperatives was ultimately identified. This plan was presented to the BOE’s Covid Task Force and to the District's Pandemic Planning Committee for review and modification. These reviews resulted in a final plan that was then presented to and approved by the BOE on Tuesday 10/13.
It is important to note that the time being used for the afternoons on Fridays was provided by the state and needed to be used at some point in the school year. As such, it is not reducing in-person learning beyond that allotted by the state. In addition, the half day off campus morning sessions every week are equivalent to the amount of off campus learning in a full day every other week that all students had in the previous schedule. Again, this is not reducing the total in-person learning time for our students beyond that allotted by the state. Finally, the number of students in quarantine or struggling to engage has been higher than expected. Educators cannot simply move forward with new learning, leaving these students behind. The hope is that this change, which allows for targeted interventions for some students, will unlock a better educational experience in both quality and quantity for all students.
What will the new schedule change allow?
Educators will have increased time to plan, collaborate, and engage in Professional Development to meet the demands of teaching in the Hybrid and/or On-Line Only models. This will maximize the educational experience for all students.
Educators will have dedicated time to engage with and provide support needed to students who have fallen behind due to the unique challenges of the Hybrid or On-Line Only models, or due to the time lost to quarantine.
Administrative Assistants and Nurses will have additional time to organize and report Covid/Non-Covid absences to the state.
By spreading these days across the remaining weeks of the semester, the district has given educators the opportunity to collaborate and provide these student supports on a more regular basis.
All students will be able to catch up on work on Friday afternoons and have opportunities to engage with teachers for support in the morning.