MT shares back-to-school plans

New online curriculum option available to students

By Martin Graham -

The administration at Miami Trace Local Schools recently shared its plans for returning to school this fall with a new online option available.

“We believe it is very important to clarify for our school community that remote learning itself is one of our learning plans for implementation based on (COVID-19) pandemic status,” Miami Trace Superintendent Kim Pittser said. “We have Learning Plans A, B, and C in our Return Guidance Document: A-Traditional, B-Hybrid, and C-Remote. If our county enters into a high alert status on the Ohio Health Advisory System or the state were to be placed in a shutdown mode similar to this past spring, our district could be placed in Plan C. These are students who currently prefer an in-person learning mode for the year but may be placed online at any point in the future, again depending on countywide or state health status.”

Pittser explained at this time the district is preparing for Plan A — which is a fairly regular start with some changes. Pittser additionally said that the Plan C-Remote Learning is different than their “special online option” for students or parents uncomfortable with returning to the classroom — known as the Panther Virtual Academy. In Plan C, students continue learning that is directed by their assigned teachers similar to what occurred in the spring when schools were first closed in the state, while the Panther Virtual Academy is a separate program offered through Miami Trace and requires a semester or full year online commitment.

“Students participating in Panther Virtual Academy will follow the same instructional sequencing and pacing as in the traditional classroom,” Pittser said. “The curriculum is aligned by pace, scope and sequence with what is taught in classrooms throughout the district following Ohio’s Learning Standards. The curriculum will incorporate both core courses and electives/specials based on grade levels. Students will participate in pre-assessments to identify learning gaps and deficiencies. Students who receive special services, such as services related to a disability, reading or math intervention, language support, and more, will continue to receive accommodations and adaptations per their IEP, 504 or specific learning plans to allow them to access the curriculum and to complete assignments. Counselors will continue to provide support services to students in Panther Virtual Academy. Social emotional learning is an important aspect of a child’s overall educational experience.”

According to Pittser, curriculum coordinators Amy Boston and Katie Abbott — along with special education directors Jackie Morris and Casey Enochs — have been leading the Miami Trace team on this project.

Registration for the Panther Virtual Academy is now open and can be completed under the “Students & Parents” tab on the Miami Trace website. Deadline for registration is Friday, Aug. 7. If parents or guardians of current Miami Trace students have questions about the Panther Virtual Academy, Pittser encourages them to contact their child’s building or the central office.

When asked, Pittser explained that Plan B would be enacted if the district is required to reduce population size on the campus. Guidance from the Ohio Department of Education recommended each district organize several learning models or plans and be able to transition among them during the course of the year. If the county experiences a flare up, the hybrid plan could be used to reduce student capacity in classrooms yet still provide some in-person learning for the children and youth.

“Yes, at this time, Miami Trace is planning for a traditional return,” Pittser said. “We continue to monitor the Ohio Health Advisory Alert System and work with the Fayette County Health Department to implement the learning plan that is most appropriate for our staff and students. Health and safety of staff and students along with effective teaching and learning remain priorities in our decision-making. We are excited to welcome our students back for the 2020-2021 school year. We encourage our parents to view updates on the district website and ensure they are aware of the learning plans that could be used. Again, if anyone has questions, please contact our buildings or central office. Together, we can make this a successful start for all our students.”

The first day for Miami Trace students is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.
New online curriculum option available to students

By Martin Graham