As the world braces to remove their masks and step back into the sunlight, people are asking each other what comes next? There are fears of whether or not there will be a spike in the affects of the pandemic. There is speculation of how the economy will be hit with all of the loss of revenues of businesses and where exactly all of the stimulus money is coming from. Governor Newsom has talked about budget cuts and people are wondering where our children stand when it comes to education. Where will education emerge as we face the reopening of schools in the fall?
All schools are faced with balancing the extended time of Distance Learning and filling holes in education that happened because schools did not get to finish their planned curriculum this year. There is also the big possibility that students needs and wants for academics will change in the fall because they are now experiencing a new way of learning. Hybrid and Independent study programs are anticipated to surge this fall because technology and a fluid schedule is what some students have been searching for to improve their academics and how they study.
California Dashboard was a new system that California schools were still working on mastering. The way Dashboard worked was flawed for some schools, where they could take a really great school and "chew them up" (as described by the CSDC CEO in a recent keynote session) because of how statistically unbalanced some schools can be demographically. These stats were created largely on a new state testing mechanism that replaced the former API system. With state testing unable to take place this year, Dashboard is expected to be suspended until further notice. Schools are still working for accountability, but the mechanisms for school accountability are murky. There is a lot of "wait and see" happening as education tries to find footing as the schools reopen.
How does Covid-19 affect an arts school? It was surreal in March when a City official showed up during opening night of "Les Miserables" to shut down the performance during the middle of the show. Thankfully, the theater manager was able to talk them into letting the show complete the performance (the city wanted to close the show during intermission), but that would be the end of the production season. "Legally Blonde" missed the stage. "Cinderella" missed the stage. Senior Showcases, Industry Showcase, and the Designer's Showcase were missed this year. With so many things lost, how does an art school reopen?
The show must go on! Life always gives you a series of challenges. Right now, it is important to teach our students that part of going successfully and happily through life is to make the most out of every situation. As an arts school, plans are being made for summer stock programs starting in July. Recording the show that never finished their run and then finishing the summer stock production that was missed will start the reopening. In the fall, arts programs will reopen and work on the guideline set forth by the CDC and the State. The plan is that second semester will hold the productions and first semester will hold more galleries and social distancing events so the students are still engaged. For curriculum, the end of the year is usually when career development building happens. This year, that curriculum will be flipped so more calendar can happen before productions and then inside theater performances can resume. During all of this, world class arts training will continue.
At Encore High School, we have taken Covid-19 measures to plan for the fall. First, students will continue summer school as planned online. This is not a change from summer school in year's past. The difference this year is that students will have more time to complete their summer assignments. Encore is starting school later this year to be proactive for what is to come through the summer. Where Encore has historically started school in mid August, this year, school resumes in September. While this shortens winter break to two weeks instead of three and then spring break is one week instead of two, the end of the school is going to be in mid June as originally planned.
The biggest changes for the fall is going to be the integration of increased populations in the Hybrid and Independent study programs.
Encore High School's Hybrid Education program is a great way to combine the needs of Independent Study with traditional seat based programming. Students enrolled in a hybrid program combine the freedom of independent study with the intense arts training and academic classes of seat based programming. Students in a hybrid program come to school two to three days each week in block scheduling for traditional classes. The other part of their school is independent study online courses that they complete at home. Putting both of these programs together in a hybrid program helps a student tailor their education to meet their needs. For schools in general, Covid-19 has been a wake up call to reevaluate how we educate our children. Moving forward, making sure that schools can tailor what is needed for each individual student will be critical for successful education. Encore is dedicated to making this happen through three educational programs - traditional seat-based programs, hybrid programs, and independent study programs. It will be a brand new day and a brand new school year as all of us emerge together, while still distanced and safe.
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Petey the Pirate is the author of this blog for Encore Education Corporation. Part of Encore Education Corporation is Encore High School, a free public arts regional high school in Southern California grades 7 - 12. Encore's Arts program is currently taking applications for the fall 2020 enrollment. Transportation is available through the Inland Empire (15 and 215 freeway) and the high desert. www.encorehighschool.com. Where arts and academics grow together. WASC Accredtied. Copyright 2020.