Pillager Area Charter School Distance Learning Update
Surviving a school year is a challenge under normal circumstances. Conducting our school program through distance learning due to the COVID 19 Pandemic, presented new challenges for both students and staff.
The staff did an admirable job of adapting our curriculum to distance learning. Working in a small, alternative charter school, we are used to quickly responding to the unique needs of our students and their families. Being flexible is part of our school culture. Designing an effective distance learning plan and implementing it without delay resulted in more students staying connected to school and keeping a routine. Students were responsible for completing a short daily assignment for each of their four core classes. However, we still emphasized relationship building and wellness. We connected each morning with an advisory chat where we did our line check ins and asked some fun warm up questions. We also offered physical and mental health activities each day such as a guided meditation, yoga, workout or art video. 73% of students agreed or strongly agreed that expectations were communicated clearly during distance learning. 73% of students also agreed or strongly agreed that the workload put on them for distance learning was appropriate. 75% of parents who responded felt expectations during distance learning were communicated clearly and that the workload was appropriate. We feel we have learned a lot about delivery of instruction that will make us better educators in the future. We thank our staff for their hard work in tenaciously reaching out to students during distance learning in order to provide much needed support.
We are also incredibly proud of the resiliency of our students during this difficult crisis. Students used effective communication to advocate for themselves. They were all understanding of the current situation and communicated with respect and compassion to each other and with their teachers. It was very uplifting to witness. On average during 11 weeks of distance learning we connected with 83% of our families in some form. All 6 of our graduates who were on track for graduation prior to distance learning, completed their required work and still earned their diplomas. We were able to hold a drive in style graduation ceremony at the school. It was nice to recognize them in a way they deserve. They will be great representatives of PACS in their communities.
While there are many positives to reflect on about distance learning, there is no substitute for being in school and learning together in person. PACS is built on creating strong relationships and experiential learning. We did the best we could to stay true to these beliefs but we know we can do these things much more effectively when we can be in school with our students. Many students found ways to be successful during distance learning but some really struggled to stay in touch and complete credits. Distance learning simply cannot provide equitable learning opportunities for all of our students, nor can it duplicate the experience of learning and growing together as a group. Distance learning has opened our eyes to provide learning opportunities in a more flexible method. We look forward to the day we can get back to school and combine what we have learned through distance learning with the methods we have traditionally used to establish an even more valuable, dynamic learning environment for our students at PACS.
By: Greg Zimmerman
Dear PACS families,
We hope you all continue to do well during this time of change. We know the rapidly evolving situation has brought about new challenges for us all, and we are dedicated to supporting you through this crisis. We will continue to reach out and support our students and families in every way that we can. We continue to monitor the situation and take note of precautions to keep our loved ones safe. Below are some things we feel are important to share:
Governor Walz announced today that schools will be continuing online learning until at least May 4th. He also announced a Shelter in Place order effective Friday, March 27th-April 10th.
Shelter in Place means that "Minnesotans may leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities and while doing so they should practice social distancing:"
1. Health & Safety Activities
2. Outdoor Activities
3. Necessary Supplies & Services
4. Essential and Interstate Travel
5. Care of Others
6. Relocation to Ensure Safety/Displacement