Distance learning at MHS: Daily advisory, locked-in schedules

After releasing a mid-August video that shared back-to-school details, McNary principal Erik Jespersen made a second video last week answering more questions that the school has received from parents.

The school year will officially get started on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students will spend at least the first nine weeks of the school year doing comprehensive distance learning.

McNary will be going from a semester system to a quarter system this year, where students, instead of taking eight classes per semester, will be taking four classes per quarter — students can earn one-half of a credit for each class per quarter.

Although students will only be having virtual classes with their teachers and classmates two days per week — while working independently on the other three weekdays — Jespersen said in the video that students will have to meet with their advisory teacher Monday through Friday.

“It’s a requirement of the Oregon Department of Education that we do take daily attendance of our students, plus it’s an opportunity for us to check in with kids and make sure they have everything they need,” Jespersen said.

According to Jespersen, students will meet with their advisor each Monday for around 30 minutes. The Tuesday through Friday meet-ups will approximately be 10 to 15 minutes.

Jespersen also said that students will not be able to change their class schedules once they receive them, even if they don’t like the classes that they were assigned.

“Unfortunately, unless there has been a mistake or there needs to be a level change, students won’t be able to change their schedules once they are published,” Jespersen said.

Schedules will be available for students on Monday Sept. 8.

Earlier this week, McNary started scheduling times for students and families to retrieve any personal items that kids had left in their lockers when school was canceled in March. This time will also be used to have students return borrowed school items, such as textbooks.

“It also going to be an opportunity to collect items such as yearbooks that were paid for last year,” Jespersen said.

In April, Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) provided Google Chromebooks to those who were unable to access the technology needed to complete distance learning from home. The district will once again be providing Chromebooks to those in need this fall.

Those having problems with their Chromebooks can schedule an appointment with technical support staff members, who will be at the school ready to resolve technological issues.