Due to the pandemic, the governor of Arizona’s has directed that Arizona schools will not begin in-person learning until at least August 17. PUSD will begin our classes as originally scheduled on August 6, and then shift to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. PUSD leaders have fielded a number of thoughtful questions from families about the advantages of keeping their children enrolled in PUSD during distance learning, instead of enrolling their children in one of the online education programs that advertise to families. Below are some of the advantages to keeping your children enrolled in PUSD, instead of choosing a different learning option this year:
ADVANTAGES WHILE PUSD IS IN DISTANCE LEARNING MODE
- PUSD distance learning will be much more structured and provide higher quality learning this year than last spring. In March, every school in the country had to make a quick shift to distance learning. With a number of technology resources already in place, the feedback we received was that PUSD’s distance learning experience was superior to most schools around the U.S. However, we know that there was ample room for improvement. We have spent the entire summer researching, consulting, planning, and crafting plans for each school to provide students and families with more structure and a more consistent, improved distance learning experience. PUSD teachers now have additional experience and will receive specific training in best distance learning practices. In a nutshell: PUSD families can expect a better learning experience this fall. See the updated PUSD Distance Learning Plan for extensive details.
- Not all established online programs provide a quality learning experience. Many programs (even those that have been around for years) rely on canned computer programs managed by non-certified and often unseen “teachers” to push buttons and deliver content to students. Many online programs experience extraordinary dropout rates and low student success.
- Students enrolled in PUSD are eligible to participate in sports and a range of school-based clubs. If a student enrolls in another online school, the AIA prohibits them from participating in PHS athletics. We will follow health and safety protocols, and we plan to carry on with all our AIA-sanctioned sports, under their direction. At this time, no sports have been cancelled. Clubs will begin online, and shift to in-person gatherings as soon as it is safe to gather.
- All PUSD distance learning classes will be taught directly by a certified, age- and content-trained PUSD teacher. These familiar teachers will interact regularly with each student, will provide creative content aligned with PUSD curriculum, and will be available daily to answer questions and provide support. You will not find those qualities in any other program.
- PUSD distance learning classes will provide structure, pacing, and a daily schedule for learning that most online programs do not. In “self-paced” programs, kids and families are on their own.
- Even while in distance learning mode, PUSD students will interact with their friends and other classmates via video conferences and other electronic means, both in their full classes and in occasional assigned small groups. Students in other online programs will not have this interaction with their friends.
- Almost no online programs offer special classes and electives such as music, visual arts, or physical education classes. PUSD will continue to offer modified versions of all these programs while in distance learning mode.
- Almost no online programs offer the rigor and variety of courses you can find at PHS, including honors courses, 14 different AP class offerings, dual enrollment courses with Yavapai College, and a full range of Career and Technical Education classes.
- Other online programs cannot provide the robust support for students with different learning needs that PUSD provides for our students with Individual Education Plans and other needs for learning support.
- Enrolling in a non-PUSD online program means a shift to unfamiliar curriculum. A lack of curriculum consistency that accompanies one or two changes in enrollment can present difficulties for student learning.
- Transferring credits from other online programs back to PUSD can be problematic, depending on the state coding and the content of the course. (For example, some online course credit transfers are only eligible for elective credit at PHS.)
- Many online programs charge for their courses and materials. PUSD distance learning costs your family nothing.
- PUSD is looking into providing computer access and supervision at a school site to students daily, even when we are in distance learning mode. This service will not be available for non-PUSD students.
- When a student withdraws from PUSD, your local community schools lose funding that provides a robust range of programs for all students now and in future years.
ADVANTAGES ONCE PUSD HAS SHIFTED BACK TO IN-PERSON LEARNING
- A wealth of educational research data shows that most students learn best in in-person classes where they interact personally with a teacher and their friends. This is why PUSD’s preferred mode for learning is in-person learning. PUSD will shift to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. PUSD will follow state and local public health experts advice on when to safely start in-person classes. We hope to spend the majority of the school year in in-person classes.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics is the foremost of many groups of experts who recommend that students be back in in-person school as soon as it is safe to do so. These experts point to the important social, emotional, physical, and educational benefits of in-person learning. We’re anxious to be back with your kids as soon as it’s safe!
- When we shift to in-person classes, PUSD has established an extensive range of health and safety protocols to reduce risk to students and staff. See PUSD’s Roadmap to Reopening at prescottschools.com for details.
- If a family member has increased health risk or a similar situation, families can choose to continue with long-term, PUSD-based distance learning in our PUSD Remote Education Program (PREP), which will continue to provide most of the advantages listed above. Some elective classes will not be available in PREP.
- Once we are back in person, students who have chosen regular classes will enjoy all the benefits of in-person learning, including daily in-person interaction with their friends and teachers, use of all school resources, and full participation in available PUSD programs. Students who have left PUSD to enroll in other online programs will miss these opportunities.
- Once back in person, students who have chosen regular classes will return to a range of activities in special classes, electives, and activities like music, visual arts, drama, CTE classes, physical education, and sports. Students who have left PUSD to enroll in other online programs will miss these opportunities.