A glimpse at Olathe’s hybrid, virtual learning plans leaves parents with questions

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OLATHE, Kan. — The Olathe school district is sharing more details about how hybrid and virtual learning will look this fall, but parents are still left with a lot of questions.  

This week, the district sent several emails to parents that gave them a first glimpse at how classes will work.

Elementary students will attend in person classes two days a week, and spend the other three days online. But middle and high school students will attend school fully online.

“Students will have more of a regular set schedule for their academic opportunities during the day,” said Dr. Brent Yeager, Olathe assistant superintendent of learning services.

The district will also take attendance, and students are required to complete six hours of learning a day.

“There’s just not enough hours in the day if we need him to be six hours online,” Olathe parent Ronee Hollrah said. “If something happens to the computer, if the internet connection goes out, it happens to me at work all the time, so it can happen to the kids.  They can’t sit there for six hours. It’s not healthy for them.”

The district is still trying to hash out how it will log students’ learning time, but assures parents the entire day won’t be spent online. It varies in amount by grade level, but all kids will spend at least 45 minutes per day online.

“Our staff is eager to break that time up. So it may be 45 minutes a day, spread throughout the day of direct instruction. It could be isolated to one time,” Yeager said. “But additionally, there will be time where students will do some small group interaction and also time they’re doing independent work.”

But Hollrah is still concerned about how much access her first-grader will have to his teacher during remote learning on hybrid days when other students are in the classroom.

“They’re not going to be able to answer all those questions,” she said. “My son’s in first grade and just learning how to read. This is going to be hard for him to log into Zoom meetings, stay focused on his task when having problems.”

The district knows there will be challenges along the way but teachers are doing all they can to make the best of a unique school year.

“The sooner we can get our kids back in-person the better, but it may take us a little while to get there,” Yeager said. “But we have to be sure we’re doing the very best by our kids and families and community and our staff, as we strive to do that.”

Olathe has also set up a new help desk to assist students with technical issues or learning questions during virtual schooling. Click here for the email address and phone number.

Classes for Olathe Public Schools start Sept. 8.

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