Learning Mode Options
University School of Milwaukee reopened its campus to students on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 for the start of the 2020–21 school year. Families were offered the option of choosing between on-campus learning and a synchronous (real-time) distance learning for each child. USM asked families to think about these decisions in one-month increments to assist teachers in lesson planning and classroom management, with monthly surveys collecting this information for each student. However, the school understood that flexibility would be needed, and also desired, depending on a family’s specific situation throughout the entire school year.
Ultimately, USM’s goal was to be able to remain open and able to offer in-person learning for those students who, along with their families, feel comfortable in being on campus, while also offering a robust distance learning alternative for families who are not comfortable having their child on campus at that time, or when a child cannot be on campus due to an isolation or quarantine situation.
In early March, Head of School Steve Hancock announced that the school planned to return fully to on-campus learning for the 2021–22 school year. Among USM’s many learnings during the pandemic, the school reaffirmed that a USM education is most impactful when teachers can deliver it face-to-face with their students. Should the need to implement distance learning arise again in the future, USM has the technology and experience necessary to make it work for students and teachers.
- How did classes work for the 2020–21 school year?
- How did USM manage the family option of choosing between on-campus and distance learning for students?
- What was the process for changing a child's learning option mid-month?
- Could families choose a hybrid approach (X days on campus and Y days online) for each week for their children?
- Was the learning experience different students using the distance learning option?
- How did USM account for a family choosing the distance learning option for their child in terms of class size and physical distancing in classrooms?
- Was there any distinction made on report cards or transcripts for students who used distance learning while on-campus learning was being offered?
- If a family chose distance learning for their child while on-campus learning was being offered, did families receive a discount or refund?
This decision tree was created for the 2020–21 school year to provide a basic road map for families to better understand their options for typical on-campus learning and distance learning.
Although safe, on-campus learning was our primary goal, we offered flexible options for families who were not yet ready for their child to return to campus, or for situations where a child may have needed to isolate or quarantine for an extended period of time.
We also actively prepared additional scenarios in the event that it was determined that typical on-campus learning was not safe, or distance learning again became mandated by state and/or local governments, which did not end up happening.