Area schools keep attendance policies in-tact during pandemic

For Kadoka Area Schools, the pandemic will cause policy change when it comes to attendance.
Published: Sep. 20, 2020 at 4:49 PM MDT
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South Dakota (KEVN) - With some students in the classroom and others using online learning, how are schools keeping kids motivated and on track? Two educators discuss how they plan to keep attendance and track progress during this unusual time.

“There is no replacement for the value of face-to-face education, where students can collaborate with one another, and with a highly qualified teacher giving that instruction. That is the most valuable model for education,” said Bud Gusso, Douglas High School principal. “Whenever a student is sitting at home, we fight a number of things. One is the quality of the curriculum; two is the student’s self-motivation to make sure that they are monitoring their own education.”

For Douglas School District, Black Hills Online Learning keeps track of its online students, but staff plans to do normal attendance-taking if all students must move online.

“If we’re in Phase 3, and students are working on Google Classroom, we have a required schedule where students will have to log into a Zoom [meeting] on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Gusso. “So teachers expect to see students' faces on that Zoom [call] working through classes, getting their questions answered and we’ll take attendance during that, so we still have an attendance taking process.”

For students who are currently doing Black Hills Online learning at Kadoka Area Schools, teachers have gone the extra step to connect with their students and keep them on track.

“The students who have chosen to go that route, we’ve got teachers who are, it’s not required, but they’re stepping up,” said Karen Byrd, Kadoka Area Schools. “They’re saying, ‘You know what? I want to Zoom with this kid every day just to help inspire him and keep him accountable.’”

Byrd said, at least for Kadoka Area Schools, the pandemic will cause policy change when it comes to attendance.

“We’ve had some very clear cut, black and white standards, for attendance, what it should look like, and this just introduces a gray area that we’re just not familiar with,” said Byrd.

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