CPS announces updated plan for student learning

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools announced updates to its learning system for students and staff, who have been working from home since mid-March.

The plan will begin on Wednesday, April 8.

Mandy Llewellyn says the Monday morning email from CPS wasn’t unexpected, but it did raise some questions for one of her children.  

Llewellyn has three children in CPS schools. Maddie is a sophomore at Rock Bridge High School, Stu is an eighth-grader at Gentry Middle School, and Duncan is a first-grader at Mill Creek Elementary. 

Under the new district grading policy, none of the children will have to turn in any more school work, and they won’t see spring semester grades.

Middle school and high school students will only receive P (pass) or IC (incomplete) grades for their work, based on their status as of the March 10 progress reports. If a student hadn't passed a class before April 1, they have the rest of the semester to work with teachers to get a passing status.

Neither a passing or incomplete mark will affect the student's GPA, the district said.

In addition, each subject will be assigned a day of the week for instruction and related mass communications, and teachers will keep holding office hours.

For elementary school students, more paper learning packets will be mailed to homes, which aims to replace the use of iPads for school work. Feedback will be provided to students, but no grades will be handed out.

For AP and Dual Credit students, assistance will still be provided to students; however each student's GPA will only reflect the previous semester's work.

Llewellyn said she supports the new policy. 

“I think we all need to just take some pressure off of each other,” she said. “I think only having to check in with these teachers once a week on their designated days will help a lot.” 

CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said the district changed the policy in an attempt to keep a level playing field for all students in terms of learning opportunities. The district moved to online instruction in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, but Baumstark said that hasn’t been a positive change for all students. 

“It seems unfair for students for whom this is not a learning environment where they thrive, to be penalized,” she said. 

Llewellyn said even though her students won’t be getting grades anymore, they’ll still be learning. 

“I don’t want this to be seen as a vacation,” she said. “I still want my kids’ brains being stimulated, and everybody’s going to do that on their own, whether it be through packets that teachers are sending home or lessons they’re posing online or things that we’re doing in our own household.” 

Additional information regarding the plan, as well as answers to FAQs can be found on the CPS website.