At KIPP Texas Public Schools, we strongly believe that in-person learning is the best option for our students. Inside our schools, there is more joy and rigor, the best academic and social-emotional experience and development for scholars, and a safe learning environment that continues to follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. We are committed to providing a safe, rigorous, and fun in-person learning environment where students thrive and meet their goals of college, career and beyond.
Due to the regulatory rules and our beliefs that in-person learning is best for KIPPsters, for the 2021-22 school year, 100% of our students will be in-person. This will allow for us to fully focus our efforts and energy on providing a safe, equitable and joyful environment for all students.
We care about you and your child’s wellbeing—mental and physically. To offer some support in this unprecedented journey and season, we decided to do a bit of research to support parents in this decision process. We also have always created environments where even our most medically-fragile students can experience school feeling cared for while also having their needs met.
There are four reasons we strongly believe in in-person learning.
In-Person Learning Supports Students with Forming Stronger Connections
Studies show that socializing and developing friendships helps children learn more about themselves, helps them build empathy, and form lasting relationships with peers.
It probably goes without saying that children are more likely to develop worthwhile connections in-person than online. The Center for Disease Control released a statement earlier this summer highlighting the importance of in-person connection for the development of children.
When students are in the same physical setting, making connections feels natural and it is unquestionably easier to reach out to classmates and teachers alike. In-person classes lead to organic discussions where students can bounce ideas off of one another. For remote classes, by contrast, the on-screen dynamic is impersonal and largely anonymous. “There is little sense of friendship or relationship between the students that would usually be built in traditional in-person classes,” says Daphane Carter, KIPP Texas State Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer. “
The statement said that connections formed through in-person interaction is crucial to the social and emotional development of children. This especially applies to children with behavioral or other developmental needs.
In-Person Learning Creates Stronger Academic Experiences for Students
Research shows that students learn more when they are in-person at school. Students receiving in-person instruction have fewer distractions, increased concentration, and can receive more direct, personalized learning experiences that keep them from falling behind. The quality of live instruction has improved tremendously this semester as we all adapted together to meet the changing needs of our scholars and families.
When together in the classroom, KTX teachers can better connect with each individual student and offer more personalized one-on-one attention and coaching.
Interactivity is key in a learning environment. A key barrier to learning, identified by a teachers’ ability to connect with students and identify their needs. This can be harder to achieve without time spent in the physical classroom, particularly if online learning is delivered to a large class rather than in small tutored groups or one-on-one environments.
Students participating in in-person learning also benefit from more collaborative and hands-on work with their peers. Students can more easily ask questions and solve problems directly with teachers and peers in real-time.
In-Person Learning Helps Improve Mental Health
While authentic connection is a huge component of mental health for children, there are a few other aspects that come into play—specifically ones that children can find much easier with in-person learning and interactions.
Just like adults, kids need physical activity, human interaction, a lot of sunlight, and healthy food to maintain their mental health.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics , “…children get much more than academics at school. They also learn social and emotional skills at school, get healthy meals and exercise, mental health support and other services that cannot be easily replicated online.”
In-Person Learning Suits Different Learning Styles
Every child has a different learning style. Oftentimes, these learning styles are separated into four different categories:
- Visual, where they retain information better if they can see it or watch the demonstration of an idea.
- Auditory learners, who are at their best when they can hear information.
- Reading/writing, where children learn best when using the written word by taking notes.
- Kinetic learners, or children who learn with hands-on experience.
Online learning presents a few challenges for each learning style. For example, kinetic learners find difficulty using physical techniques to retain information when most of the lessons are visual and auditory focused. And auditory learners may be distracted by seeing their peers’ faces on screen while the teacher is talking.
Being together in a classroom allows a teacher to guide each student according to their unique abilities, and have a good perspective on whether the children themselves are utilizing them to their best ability.
How We Keep In-Person Learning Safe for Your Kids
Helping your children get healthy interaction through in-person learning while staying safe from coronavirus isn’t an easy feat. But at KTX, we’re doing our best to provide parents with the resources they need to help their children succeed during this challenging time.
At KTX, your children can make tons of friends, form bonds with their coaches and teachers, stay active, and release stress with some good old fashioned fun, all while staying safely socially-distanced.
We have limited the number of students to meet state guidelines and staggered class start times to limit contact during classroom transition. We accommodate and encourage curbside drop off.
Children and teachers experiencing any symptoms of illness are asked to stay home, and we enforce a health check at drop off including to take their temperature before they come in the gym.
Facilities are disinfected thoroughly and regularly, both by us and a cleaning crew. We will encourage social distancing.
There’s no better time than now to help take care of your child’s mental health and social skills. And there are safe ways to make sure they’re active, happy and healthy!
A More Inclusive Approach
We also have learned students miss opportunities for enriched and flexible learning opportunities when they are confined to a binary learning modality. I envision a future where we retire the idea of online vs. classroom learning, replacing these dueling models with a unified format that prioritizes outcomes. Instead of approaching the education of our KIPPsters from a “this or that” approach, we have decided to take a “this and that” approach. This allows the format of the time spent with teachers—providing the cognitive nourishment for knowledge to blossom—to become secondary and offers the benefit of meeting the needs of a more diverse mix of students.
We know many learners find their most enriching development experiences in experiential and personalized learning, from group work with classmates, internships, and mentorships. By incorporating more of these activities as part of the overall learner experience, we have created a more seamless way to integrate hybrid experiences for our middle and high school students that take advantage of the resources in our network and are not siloed to one city.
We are so looking forward to having 100% of our KIPPsters back in person for the 2021-22 school year and can’t wait to continue walking alongside them and their families, supporting their academic journey by providing them with the skills and confidence to pursue the paths they choose – college, career, and beyond.