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‘Recovery of Learning’ Hopes to Fill in Gaps Left by Remote Learning

Monacan High
Monacan High School in Chesterfield County. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

When schools moved to remote learning back in March, Chesterfield’s school district had to scramble with how to set up lessons delivered solely online. 

When it looked like students were no longer going to see their teachers or classmates in person, Sharon Pope, chief academic officer, said the district had to come up with a plan on how they were going to teach students. 

Pope said the administrators carved up what they were doing into three phases. By this time, their first two phases--which were rehashing prior lesson plans and sending out a few new ones --were already underway.  

Now, the district is in phase three, which is called “Recovery of Learning.”

“So ‘Recovery of Learning’ will have multiple attempts for students to regain any of that knowledge lost to fill in their skill and knowledge gaps that they may have from their previous classes. And just be a safety net, ongoing,” Pope said.

The free program breaks up students by grade levels, lumping Pre-K through fifth grade into one and middle and high schools into another. The underlying thread with both groups is that students will have one-on-one teacher time.  

Under the Pre-K through fifth grade umbrella, students will have personalized courses circling around math and language arts. The courses will cover content from the grade level they were in during the current school year. 

Students who sign up will already be familiar with the online apps teachers will use, such as DreamBox. And, these lessons can be used on Chromebooks the schools handed out when their physical doors shut. If students don’t have a Chromebook, the district will provide them for free. Officials say any device, such as a home computer, tablet or even a smartphone will work--if they can run the apps. Free WiFi hotspots are also available around the county. 

Pope said that paper packets will continue to be prepared and made available at schools or mailed twice in July for students if requested.

“We’re hoping that the layers of support and the structure that we will be introducing this summer will be a great trial run for us, in case when fall rolls around we’re not able to return completely to a face-to-face learning environment,” said Pope.

Classes for both elementary and secondary school students will run Monday through Thursday. 

For middle and high school students, the set up is different. They can take one or more classes as needed. Students can sign up to review course content and skill development taught during the current school year. 

That’s what parent Christine Brandel did for her daughter, Wren, who will be starting at Monacan High School in the fall. Wren is an honors student but her mom still wants her to solidify her math skills. 

“We signed her up for algebra because it’s not a strength for her at all,” said Brandel. “I just felt like this would help her kind of strengthen her abilities before she goes into high school.” 

Middle and high school teachers in Recovery of Learning will help students set goals and monitor the students progress in courses through virtual office hours. Besides one-on-one time, students can also be part of small group instruction. 

Older students are also allowed to move through the course at their own pace. And special education support and assistance for English language learners is built into the program.

Chesterfield school officials say students who don’t want to register for the Recovery of Learning program will still have access to all materials -- online. 

Registration is open through June 15th. Classes start on June 29th and run through the end of July.