BASIS Charter Schools made a rapid transition to remote education and has offered a rich learning experience for students working at home. Inga Munsinger Cotton spoke with Andrew Sterbenz, BASIS.ed’s Senior Director of Curriculum Management. Here in San Antonio, BASIS San Antonio Northeast will open this fall, joining BASIS San Antonio Primary—North Central Campus, BASIS San Antonio Primary—Medical Center Campus, and BASIS San Antonio—Shavano Campus.
Starting in January, BASIS leadership could foresee that campuses may need to close, and began making plans for remote education. BASIS already had Microsoft Teams installed, but only a few staff members were using it. Andrew and his colleagues started experimenting with it: how to set up classrooms, how teachers would post materials and assignments, and how students would turn in assignments. They made choices to keep things simple and protect student privacy. The students already had Android tablets for e-textbooks, but the settings needed to be changed so students could use them for remote education functions. Advance preparation and the ability to adapt helped BASIS to make a rapid transition to distance learning and keep students engaged.
Because some families may face challenges in creating a good environment for home learning, BASIS changed its evaluation policies. Andrew explained that work that students do from home may help raise their grades, but it won’t lower their grades. This is a departure from BASIS culture that believes in rigorous comprehensive assessments to ensure that all students move on to the next grade prepared to take on challenging material. In practice, most students have stayed highly engaged with their work, logging in to voluntary student hours to ask their teachers questions. They are staying motivated because they want to learn the material and be ready for the next grade, and because of their relationships with their teachers.
BASIS leaders and teachers are making contingency plans for back to school—whether that involves bringing students on campus, a split schedule, or continuing to improve distance learning. As we learn more about what school will be like in August, we will share on the blog and in San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group. In the meantime, you can apply for your children to enroll at BASIS Charter Schools at http://www.enrollbasis.com/.