We are proud to feature this guest post from our friends at IDEA Public Schools.
At IDEA Public Schools, we believe that in-person learning is the best option for 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 and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. We are committed to providing a safe, rigorous, and fun in-person learning environment where students thrive on the road to and through college.
What are the benefits of in-person learning?
1. Academic Development
During in-person learning, we provide students with the support they need to succeed.
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, IDEA teachers can better connect with each individual student and offer more personalized one-on-one attention and coaching. In addition, when teachers can provide more direct oversight of learning in person, it helps increase student focus, motivation, and engagement.
Scholars 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.
2. Social-Emotional Development
Students will develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with teachers and peers during in-person learning.
Through seeing body language, engaging in conversations, and socializing through class and play, students participate in valuable social and emotional learning practices every day in the classroom. These experiences increase a sense of well-being, belonging and comfort.
The school day also provides students with structure and routine, as well as access to caring adults who can support students with a range of emotions they might be feeling on a daily basis.
Students participating in in-person instruction also gain access to extracurricular activities, such as sports and after-school programs, which are fun ways to supplement and enhance the classroom learning. They also have frequent and safe access to their friends and peers, helping them feel excited about school and be more engaged in the classroom.
3. Physical & Nutritional Health
IDEA provides healthy, nutritious meals and physical activities to scholars daily.
Students receiving in-person instruction have access to healthy meals and physical exercise daily and receive the proper nutrition for their minds and bodies to stay healthy and strong. According to the CDC, schools are essential to meeting the nutritional needs of children, with many students consuming up to half their daily calories at school.
Schools also play a critical role in supporting children and adolescents in eating healthy and getting regular physical activity. Schools can provide learning opportunities to reinforce these healthy behaviors by implementing wellness policies and practices and using an effective health education curriculum.
IDEA also has registered dietitians and chefs in the district who are dedicated to designing meals that meet optimal nutritional standards to properly fuel students on their way to achieving their goals.
IDEA’s Continued Commitment Health and Safety with In-Person Learning
As a district, we are committed to maintaining the health and safety of our students, staff and families—always! We have implemented strict health and safety protocols to ensure our scholars and staff remain safe, and we will continue to adhere to these safety measures, as advised by the CDC and national health experts.
As immunization rates increase and community COVID-19 rates decrease, we are seeing more and more families opting for in-person instruction across all of our regions each week. In response, IDEA staff have completed safety training in an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus and keep all members of our campus community safe and accountable.
We will continue to operate by our core safety protocols, including:
- Health screenings before entering buildings
- Masks will be worn at all times
- Hand sanitation before entering buildings and throughout the school day
- Sanitation of frequently touched surfaces
- Social distancing to the extent possible
- Requesting that families report COVID-19 symptoms and/or test results before coming to school and stay home if exposed, symptomatic or positive
- Fostering two-way communication with families
Our own data shows, and experts have affirmed, that schools are not super spreader environments. IDEA’s strict health and safety protocols have minimized the spread of the virus in our offices and classrooms and have proven that students and staff are safe.
Extensive research and data from leading health officials has also found that students participating in in-person instruction are not more likely to contract COVID-19. More importantly, the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and education advocates from around the country continue to encourage schools to remain open, and for students to be in school learning in person. Their rationale is that schools are serving as a safe haven for families and health risks have proven to be minimal.
Overall, IDEA student and overall case rates are also lower than the average of other districts.
IDEA is also deeply invested in health and safety for the long-term. We have funded large-scale facility improvements—MERV 13 air filters, hand washing and hand sanitizer stations, auto-flush kits for restrooms, water bottle filling stations, and more—in addition to providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our campuses.
Our teams also worked to implement a COVID-19 testing program for staff and students; to date, more than 15,900 tests have been administered.
We are also working around the clock to increase access to vaccines for our Team & Family. In fact, we have already vaccinated over 3,867 staff members (48.3 percent of the total staff population) and that number is growing every day. We are well on our way to meet our goal of 80 percent of staff immunized by the end of May.
We strongly encourage all our families to consider returning to an in-person learning model for their scholar. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate the updates to health and safety protocols and determine the best approach for our Team & Family to succeed. For answers to additional questions, please see our Health & Safety Information page.
In-Person Learning on Charter Moms Chats
Watch Rolando Posada, Regional Superintendent of IDEA San Antonio, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats about in-person learning on April 29, 2021 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Rolando Posada is the Regional Superintendent of IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio. Rolando moved his family to San Antonio in 2012. He grew the region from one to 20 schools in five years; by 2022, IDEA will have a total of 36 schools in the San Antonio region.
Prior to this role, Rolando was a VP of Schools for IDEA in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where he led his high schools to national recognition and 100 percent college acceptance for several years, while serving a predominantly Latino population, of which more than 85 percent of students qualified for free or reduced lunch. In 2016, IDEA was named America’s Best Charter School Network, winning the coveted Broad Prize for Charter Schools Award, and boasts national rankings on The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report’s top high schools lists.
In 2007, Rolando was promoted into the principal role where he led the turnaround of IDEA Frontier College Prep from academically unacceptable to an exemplary Texas Education Agency rating, in two years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and his MBA from the University of Sioux Falls. He holds teacher, principal, and superintendent certificates.
Read More About IDEA Public Schools
- “3 Big Reasons Why In-Person Learning Is Best for Scholars,” IDEA Public Schools, March 31, 2021
- “Making a Difference at IDEA Monterrey Park College Prep,” San Antonio Charter Moms, January 21, 2021
- “Strong Start 2020: IDEA Public Schools Back to School Plan for 2020–21,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 8, 2020
- “Guide to Enrolling in IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio for 2020–2021,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 11, 2019
- “AP For All: IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio Gives All Students Access to Advanced Placement Courses,” San Antonio Charter Moms, September 18, 2017