Asynchronous learning takes place following winter storm

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Cooper Ragle

With the last couple of weeks involving a winter storm, power outages for some students, and asynchronous learning, many teachers on campus have been understanding of the circumstances in regards to their students’ well-being.

Power and water outages following Winter Storm Uri inhibit the district from being able to reopen schools, causing Monday and Tuesday to be marked as asynchronous virtual learning days for Frisco ISD students. 

The reason for the delayed return to in-person instruction is associated with the restoration of water, power, and food to each campus and not a result of damage specifically,”

— FISD spokeswoman Meghan Cone

“Fortunately, we have not had significant damage, but numerous buildings have had minor water leaks and we continue to assess for damage as we restore water to all campuses,” FISD spokeswoman Meghan Cone said via email. “The reason for the delayed return to in-person instruction is associated with the restoration of water, power, and food to each campus and not a result of damage specifically.” 

In order to open campuses, water, power, and food must be restored to each campus and any maintenance or safety issues must be addressed, according to Cone. 

“However, because reliable power and internet service has been restored within the community, it was possible for asynchronous virtual learning to take place,” Cone said. “The District will evaluate campuses on a day-by-day basis to determine which buildings are ready to reopen to in-person instruction starting Wednesday.” 

Taking a day-by-day approach, campus principal Ashley Rainwater believes these circumstances call for flexibility. 

“Right now as our students and teachers are struggling with issues at their homes, we will start out asynchronously,” Rainwater said via email. “All teachers will be monitoring emails and available on Zoom once a day to support their students. We will be constantly assessing how everyone is doing and will make changes to the plans as need be. Flexibility is the key here. Luckily our students and staff have demonstrated over the past year that they can adapt and flourish.” 

Asynchronous learning for students includes short and succinct learning opportunities that focus on essential learning skills, available at 7:30 a.m. and due at 11:59 p.m. each day for attendance purposes, according to a Sunday evening email update from Rainwater. 

English teacher David Barr applauds the campus’s emphasis on this week’s low-stakes assessment of students. 

“It’s impossible to know every student’s situation, and allowing and encouraging us to check in with our kids, to see how they’re doing and how they’re recovering from last week was 100 percent my focus coming into the week; so to receive that guidance from the District and from our campus was encouraging,” Barr said. “On a practical level, taking the time to ensure our campus is 100 percent good to go in terms of essential infrastructure, like food in our cafeteria, is a process, so I’m glad we’re not seeing a ‘mad rush’ back to campus. It’s my sincere hope we can get an accurate picture of our students this week, hopefully, hear that Liberty is fully operational and ready for us, and get the all-clear to return to campus next week.” 

On Friday, Feb. 12, Frisco ISD prepared students for possible virtual learning due to the storm by sending devices home with those who needed them. 

“On Feb. 12, schools sent face-to-face students home with devices if they indicated a need for one in order to participate in potential asynchronous virtual learning,” Cone said via email. “FISD has previously made wifi hotspots available to students who communicated a need to have internet access at home. It is our understanding that reliable power and internet service has been restored to homes within Frisco ISD. As always, families experiencing hardships are encouraged to contact their campus counselors for resources and assistance.” 

It’s impossible to know every student’s situation, and allowing and encouraging us to check in with our kids, to see how they’re doing and how they’re recovering from last week was 100 percent my focus coming into the week”

— English teacher David Barr

Meals were provided on Feb. 19 to families who needed them, as well, and normal free meal distribution will continue Thursday. Additionally, it has not been decided how learning will look for Redhawks on Wednesday. 

“I know this has been a very difficult time for many of our students and staff,” Rainwater said via email. “The health and safety of our Redhawk community is always our priority.  I encourage our students to join their teachers’ zoom meetings if they need help with their work or want to reconnect with their teacher. Administrators and counselors are here to offer support and address concerns. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need something. I am hopeful that the building repairs are completed and we are back to school as normal (well, normal for this year).”

Cone also noted to stay tuned in regards to how the use of four bad weather days affects the FISD calendar for the rest of the year.