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The state Department of Education recently approved plans for distance learning from both Dothan and Houston County school systems.

The local school districts had similar academic continuity plans with attention to grading, but will have different end dates.

Both school districts are taking a blended approach to grading as outlined in guidance passed down by the state.

For students in grades K-8, scores from the first three quarterly report cards will be averaged to get the end-of-the-year score. Students in grades 9-12 will receive their most recent report card grade as their final grade, with the exception of students who did not meet passing criteria.

Half-credit courses, which meet the second semester only, will have the current third nine weeks' average as their fourth nine weeks' average. The final average will be derived by averaging the third and fourth nine weeks combined.

Seniors who are considered “in good standing” as of the last grading period will graduate.

“We’re reviewing student records right now,” Dothan City School Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said. “If we have students we do not meet the criteria, we will work to identify them and give them work.”

Teachers will begin contacting their students this week to let them know where they stand in each class and how instruction will be delivered.

Students who were not on track to pass a course, according to the last grading period, will be given course material to work on at home, either in packets or through virtual learning.

“If they have met that class’s standards, they will still have work focusing on preparing them for the next school year,” Houston County Superintendent David Sewell explained.

Edwards called it “enrichment activity,” which will be different at each grade level focusing on the critical standards of each core subjects.

Houston County Schools Elementary Curriculum Supervisor Denise Cohen said the main goal is to prolong students' learning to mitigate the “summer slide,” or the tendency of children to lose some of their academic achievement gains during the year.

Most standards were taught prior to spring break, which typically occurs right before testing season, Cohen said. The last quarter is typically used for review and to ensure that students fully grasp the concepts they’ve been taught all year, a critical step in retention.

“We want to focus on the individual students’ needs and make sure they are set up for success in the fall,” Cohen said.

Edwards said she does not anticipate more class failures as a result and rumors about students having to repeat an entire year are not true.

Both superintendents said that career technical courses are being reviewed individually, as many are dual-enrollment or vocational studies offered by local colleges. Edwards mentioned that some courses will need to get creative in order to help students obtain class credit or certifications.

Teachers are going to schools in shifts in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines to access resources to print material.

Houston County Schools will have two pickup dates for two weeks of material: April 15 and April 30. All assignments are due by May 15. Packets will also be available online.

Dothan City Schools will have material available online and in packet form in two-week increments as well starting April 13, April 27, May 11, and May 26. All assignments are due by June 5.

If a teacher has not contacted a parent by the end of this week, schools ask that parents contact them.

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