MUSD Superintendent Lile: Learning loss is certain


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune Millview Elementary School first grade teacher Maria Vargas, right, meets with Gabriela Lopez, Alberto Dominguez, 6, and Lizzet Dominguez, 5, outside while in a social distance setting to distribute a computer and supplies, and discuss the online distance learning students will be participating in this year until further notice.

‘Any opportunity we have to get the kids into the classrooms this fall … we need to work to make that happen.’ — Todd Lile Madera Unified School District’s 2020-2021 school year opened this week under orders from the state that distance learning had to be observed. Teachers were in their classrooms, and students remained at home.

According to district Superintendent Todd Lile, the first day of school went well, but he had a word of caution for the community: The COVID-19 pandemic will take its toll on education. This appears to be inevitable.

In a special video, “Re-Imagining Learning During a Pandemic,” prepared by Windsong Productions of Fresno, the district broke the news to parents that their children are going to experience some learning loss because of mitigation efforts to control the COVID-19 virus.

“Distance learning even at its best, means that there will be some learning loss,” was the message. “We are facing health dangers. We are facing a loss of learning,” warned Lile. The superintendent and several teachers stated the district’s case in the video.

First, they made the point that the distance learning experienced in the spring was very difficult and very different from that which is being experienced this fall. Distance learning in the spring was impromptu; there was lots of review and very little new learning.

The distance learning that descended on the district in the spring was a “crisis” situation.

“We really didn’t know what we were doing at the time,” Lile said. “That has changed. The district knows what it is doing; it has a plan.

This fall, there will be an abundance of new learning; teachers are in their classroom, and are a lot more prepared as to what the task is and how to perform it.

“Teachers are more connected to the technology of distance teaching, and, unlike in the spring, assignments matter; attendance matters; and there is daily, live interaction with kids.

“Some things don’t change, however. Some of the effects of distance learning on kids and parents won’t go away. Mental health issues will continue. Some parents still have to choose between working and providing help for their children. Child neglect still has to be monitored. The homeless, and English language learners still face challenges.

“Any opportunity we have to get the kids into the classrooms this fall … we need to work to make that happen,” said Lile.

In the meantime, Lile pointed out, parents can reduce the risks of learning loss by making each day seem like a normal school day by doing the following:

1 — Set up permanent locations at home for school.

2 — Include a desk set up if possible.

3 — Make sure lessons are done.

4 — Observe consistent bedtime hours.

5 — Establish a “get ready for school” routine in the morning.

Parents can expect additional updates on distance learning in the upcoming weeks. On July 21, 2020, the school board authorized the hiring of Windsong, the same company that produced the videos for MUSD graduations, to “teach staff, students, and the community about MUSD, the racial makeup and lives of its students, alumni stories, and COVID-19 safety.” The cost is not to exceed $85,000, which will come from COVID-19 funds provided by the State. The videos air on various social media sites.

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