Madison-Plains preps for remote learning, secures WiFi for students

(Posted Aug. 19, 2020)

Josephine Birdsell, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains school board members approved a plan for the district’s remote learning option for students at their regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 18.

Students can choose to attend classes in-person five days a week or to engage in remote learning. So far, more than 20 percent of the district’s student population has opted to engage in remote learning, said Superintendent Chad Eisler.

Students who choose to engage in remote learning will complete coursework through Madison-Plains Virtual School, through which district teachers will teach a curriculum from Florida Virtual School. Students will have virtual meetings and check-ins with district teachers, as well.

“Madison-Plains teachers will be overseeing them and guiding them through their learning,” Eisler said.

Attendance will be monitored primarily through student completion of weekly assignments. However, students are also expected to make contact with teachers multiple times a week and attend virtual meetings with teachers. Teachers will be able to monitor student access of virtual materials for attendance purposes.

The Ohio Department of Education must approve the district’s remote learning plan before it goes into effect.

The district is working to ensure access to remote learning options for all of its students. To that end, the district secured more than 600 Chromebooks to distribute to students on a first-come, first-served basis. The district also entered into a contract with Miami Valley Educational Computer Association for 300 wireless Internet hotspots with unlimited data.

The district aims to supply a hotspot to every student who does not have WiFi access and the ability to afford WiFi, Eisler said.

The district will determine eligibility based on its knowledge of areas in the school district without WiFi, feedback from families, and family finances through free and reduced lunch.

“Anyone who wouldn’t have access, we’re going to try to provide it,” Eisler said.

Additionally, the district is expanding its WiFi services around the Linson Road campus so that students can access WiFi from school parking lots if their home connections falter.

“We’re adding one more layer… to make this better for kids,” Eisler said.

The hotspots are estimated to cost $67,500. The district hopes a Broadband Ohio grant will cover the cost.”

“We don’t know how much we’ll be awarded… but we stand a really good chance of being awarded a substantial amount,” said Todd Mustain, district treasurer.

The district’s online learning curriculum from the Florida Virtual School is estimated to cost between $193,000 and $196,000, depending on how many students opt for remote learning. Federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act funds will cover the majority of the expense at $159,000, while a federal Title 4 grant will cover $6,100, a Title 1 grant will cover $32,000, and an Expanding Opportunities for Each Child grant will cover any remaining cost.

“As a school district, we have made some decisions that we believe are in the best interest of our students,” Eisler said.

“We’re trying very hard to provide the best educational experience that we can and to provide as safe an experience as we can. So, we encourage everyone to remain positive and work together. Stay encouraged.”

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