Canyons School District scheduling six virtual learning days: Here’s why

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ABOVE: Salt Lake County Health Department breaks down COVID-19 data for county’s schools, including Canyons School District

SANDY, Utah (ABC4) – Students in the Canyons School District can expect a half-dozen remote learning days in the coming weeks. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic is largely to blame, officials say.

The Canyons Board of Education has approved a plan to set aside six upcoming Fridays for remote learning and teacher preparation and planning. During these days, students are expected to use the time for independent study and will receive learning packets or access to assignments on Canvas. Meanwhile, teachers will report to school for work and use the time to work with peers, create lesson and intervention plans, and provide needed outreach to students. Teachers can also hold office hours by appointment for students and parents.

This time is not intended to be used for athletic or performing arts practices.

The Board of Education says the decision to have these remote days is in acknowledgment of the continued pressures teachers and staff face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The goal here is to support teachers in supporting students. Teachers need more planning and collaboration time to ensure students have the resources they need to excel, and students need more time to catch up on unfinished learning,” says Canyons Assistant Superintendent Dr. Bob Dowdle. 

According to the Board, teachers are reporting increased rates of exhaustion, stress, and burnout due to staffing shortages and students being absent. In the Canyons School District, district office staff are volunteering as substitutes amid shortages. New initiatives and teacher trainings have been suspended and postponed, with the exception of those that are state-mandated or required as a condition of a grant.

Still, the need for substitute teachers is so impactful that teachers are being required to combine classes or fill in for one another during prep periods, leaving them with little planning time. Additionally, high rates of student absences – due to illness or students being placed on COVID-19-related quarantine – are cutting into teachers’ time to help keep students on track with their learning.

The first “Remote-Learning Friday” will be held on November 5. The district has not yet scheduled the five additional remote-learning Fridays but the schedule will take into account schools on rolling ABAB calendars. According to the Board of Education, a proposed schedule will be considered during an upcoming meeting.

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