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RSU 71 district principals reflect on remote learning

By Kendra Caruso | Jul 31, 2020
Source: File photo.

Belfast — At Regional School Unit 71’s Board of Directors meeting July 27, principals from district schools reflected on remote learning during the last school year.

Principals discussed a need for more consistency with teaching platforms and better management of meeting times. Some teachers were working across multiple teaching applications and had several Zoom meetings scheduled at the same time.

Capt. Albert W. Stevens Elementary School Assistant Principal Ashley Reynolds suggested the school use Google Classrooms as the teaching platform for all classes. Ames Elementary School Principal Lori Smail said she would like to have more student training on technology used for remote learning.

Belfast Area High School Principal Jeff Lovejoy and Assistant Principal Colden Golann talked about the effect of remote learning on the only school in the district that is not proficiency-based. Students in advanced placement classes appear to have done well while learning at home, they said.

Lovejoy said freshmen and juniors’ grade-point averages suffered the most during remote learning.

Board Vice Chairwoman Jessica Woods expressed reservations about grading students on a 0-100 scale while high schoolers are still adjusting to remote learning. She was concerned that it could reflect negatively on students when they applied for college.

A few children will stay back a grade, some because of remote learning complications and others because of other issues that arose before COVID-19.

In a recent teacher survey released by the district, 50% of teachers said fewer than half their students kept up with and engaged in lesson plans. On a scale of 1-4, about 70% of teachers rated themselves a two or three when asked if they could effectively assess students in remote learning.

School Nutrition Director Perley Martin said the district distributed almost 60,000 breakfasts and lunches during remote learning. He thanked employees and volunteers who helped bag and deliver food to students.

At a special Board of Directors meeting Monday, Aug. 3, the district will announce its plan to reopen or continue remote learning for the new school year.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: wendy c kasten | Aug 01, 2020 10:36

Australia knows more about distance and remote learning than the US. Teachers there have been serving children of all ages in remote areas too far from any school, and doing it for 100 years. They did it using the mail where children received periodic packets with their assignments and materials. Not too many years ago, these remote stations had no telephones, and so children had individually an appointment with their teacher by two way radio. This was an opportunity to talk, instruct, and build rapport.


When I lived there, I taught one distance learning class for teachers. An university office prepared mailing of materials and assignments I provided. Assignments were returned by mail as well. Three times during the term, there were in-person meetings on Saturdays-all day. Teachers would need to travel Friday after school the 7-8 hours to class and book a hotel. They would pack their food for the trip as food services were also not available in these locations.

We could look to these models for creative ideas.Not all students have internet, but they all have mail service and telephones. I am also happy to discuss these ideas further with our local educational leaders. I can be reached through my website,

Wendy C. Kasten, Professor Emerita

Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum Studies- Literacy


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