Students have literally been knocking at the doors of Chelsea High School (CHS) to try to get back to school over the past week, and in response to an overwhelming need from parents who have to be at work, the district will begin an Online Learning Center program at various schools in the district.
The schools will create their own program for middle school and high school students, and For Kids Only will expand to handle any elementary needs, Supt. Almi Abeyta said.
The program will fit in with remote instruction – there will be no teachers teaching students in classrooms. Instead, students will be able to come to the school in larger spaces and log into remote learning from the school location. The Center will be staffed by district personnel, but not teachers, and they will be able to help with technical issues or other basic questions.
“The real reason we’re doing this is we realized many families and students need a place during the day where they can work,” she said. “Working at home can be distracting. So, students at the middle school and high school will have an opportunity to come to the school and do remote learning at the school.”
Abeyta said they had to move fast on the Centers due to the fact that so many Chelsea families need to go to work, and cannot leave children at home alone.
“The reality is we have so many families that need to go to work,” she said. “We hope by opening up these Centers we can help our families and provide a safe space for students to access remote education. That’s the real heart of this initiative. We can’t do it for all families, but families in a crunch at the middle school level in particular, we want to help them.”
The initiative would begin at Chelsea High on Sept. 28 with 50 students maximum. On the week of Oct. 5, they expect to be able to open the Browne Middle, the Wright Middle and the Clark Avenue Middle to 50 students each for Centers there.
For grades K-4, For Kids Only will be expanding to be an all-day program and to supervise students at the Centers. It’s likely that will be open to 50 students for each school as well in the Burke Complex.
“I think 50 will be plenty at each school,” said Abeyta. “But I also think FKO will be huge because the little ones do need supervision.”
The District is taking applications now for the Centers.
•REMOTE LEARNING SEES GREAT ATTENDANCE
Supt. Almi Abeyta reported that the first few days of remote schooling this year showed surprisingly high attendance – with each day above 90 percent.
That’s a dramatic departure from last spring’s emergency remote learning efforts, where 50 percent attendance was a good day, she said.
“The attendance rates are amazing,” she said. “We’ve had 90 percent attendance districtwide for the first several days. That’s solid and we’re thrilled about it. We do believe it’s all the ChromeBook distributions we’ve done. We’ve distributed 4,700 ChromeBooks and it’s made a difference. It’s a very, very strong start. On a good day last spring, we were at 55 percent of students logging in.”
The goal all summer at the schools was to improve over last spring’s challenging effort to get kids learning fully remote. So far, Abeyta said the planning has paid off and there are obvious early results.
“We have grown so much,” she said. “We understand it’s still remote, but there is also more accountability for teaching and learning and taking attendance. We are really emphasizing that and engaging with families on that up front.”
One of the biggest issues so far has been technical issues, or computers breaking down. The schools have implemented a hotline an e-mail for technical issues. To get assistance, call (617) 466-5070, or email [email protected]