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Remote Fridays to Continue at LUHS

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The Lakeland District school board has reaffirmed it will continue every other Friday as a staff/student work day after strong support for it came from teachers, a tribal representative and a student at Monday’s board meeting.

Board member Shawn Umland said he brought the matter to the board after being contacted by parents.

“I was asked by several parents in the community who stated that they wanted to open up (the school for all in-class learning) the five days, he said. “They feel that it’s going to assist in achieving better grades, getting back to some type of normality and narrowing the achievement gap.”

At least one of the parents was under the impression that the day exists simply as a teacher workday, he said, while there is also a belief it allows staff a day off from work. The alternate Fridays with no in-class instruction was put in place last October, in part, because of the extra workload caused by both in-class and remote teaching for teachers.

“How are we getting the message out to parents, and maybe even students, that there are these unbelievable options that are available to assist in student success,” Umland said of those staff/student workdays.

He thanked the staff “for all your efforts and ingenuity and willingness to go over and above the call of duty.”

Several people took to the floor to say they wanted the every other Friday workday to continue because of the positive impact on students. Among them was Shannon Cobe, presiding judge at Lac du Flambeau tribal truancy court.

“I have seen so many of our students struggling to understand concepts,” she said. “It’s amazing how much they gain from that Friday,” she said. “I ask you to please consider the welfare of all our students.”

Fred Maulson, Native American mentor at LUHS, said tribal students “really focus on coming to remote Fridays.”

Social studies teacher Frank Keeler said he supported keeping remote Fridays. “We have four Fridays left, I would argue, for some of the best education I have had in 20 plus years.” The interaction that he’s had at the youth center in Lac du Flambeau has been “nothing short of transformative,” he added. Those kids want to be there.” He advocated that in the future the program be expanded to Saturdays.

Rae Grosman, LUHS virtual coordinator, said the remote Fridays are “essential” for teachers to meet collaboratively to learn about and implement best teaching practices. She said she uses those Fridays to meet with students “who cannot be in the building for whatever reason.”

“This is AP crunch time for many of us,” she also said.  “Teachers are giving up their lunch times, planning times and working before and after school to support advance placement students,” she said.

Nina Starynski, a LUHS senior and student representative on the board, said she uses the remote Fridays to catch up with her studies and homework. She’s not alone, she said, of those needing that time to maintain their coursework.

The responses prompted board members, after agreeing to continue the remote Fridays, to urge the administration to better inform the public what transpires on those Fridays and how it helps students’ success.

“I truly think we could have alleviated a lot of this if we would have done, I guess, a little bit more self promotion of all the great things that our school is doing,” Umland said.

District administrator Rob Way said he would contact the news media for additional coverage of remote Fridays, as well as sending out a parent newsletter on the matter. He urged parents with questions or concerns to contact his office or the principal’s office for more information.

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