Fall 2020 ThoughtExchange Results

ThoughtExchange: Community Shares Input on Responsible Reopening
Posted on 06/16/2020
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Word Cloud in multiple colors“As we continue to build out options and plans for what school can look like in the fall of 2020, what considerations should we keep in mind?” Lakota Local Schools recently posed this open-ended question to its parents, students, staff and community members to gather input on reopening the district’s 23 buildings for the 2020-21 school year.

Through ThoughtExchange,
a unique online surveying tool the district introduced earlier this year, the 4,771 participants were able to share their thoughts as well as rate the thoughts of others. Using a five-star rating system, participants awarded stars based on how much they agreed, or disagreed, with the comments. More than 4,500 thoughts were shared and over 208,000 ratings given. 


“We will take the input our community has given us into careful consideration when building out our plans to return to school in the fall,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller. While the district awaits guidance from the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Department of Health and the Butler County Health Department, its leaders continue to work on three scenarios for the new school year, as well as a virtual pilot for students who are unable to return to school due to health risks. 


Prior to launching the ThoughtExchange, Miller had shared via video messages, Facebook Live events and other communications that the district was preparing three different scenarios for the start of the school year: a traditional return to school with all students in the classrooms, a fully remote, but more robust, option for all learning to be done from home if schools could not reopen and a third scenario that would be a blend of the two previous scenarios. Miller also shared that the district is building out a 100-percent virtual option for students with high-risk health concerns who are unable to return to school. 


With a star rating of 4.4, the number one thought shared in the survey was, “If remote learning is to remain, all teachers in all grades need to be on the same page. Homework needs to be clearly explained and located in one spot. Having to look on HAC (Home Access Center), Canvas, emails, etc., is too complicated. There needs to be one place to find it and have it be clear of due dates and if missing.” Following closely behind were two thoughts centering on communication from the schools, including the importance of transparency about sickness in the schools and giving advance notice of any final plan.


In addition to consistency and communication, other areas of consideration included many thoughts on the three scenarios for the fall, special education, giving families the option of virtual (online-only) learning, the social/emotional needs of students, staff, and transportation. Childcare and taking into consideration the needs of working parents were also rated as high priority items. The results of the exchange can be viewed by clicking here.


The use of ThoughtExchange comes on the heels of a series of surveys directed at parents and secondary students throughout remote learning. The goal of this series was to gather feedback about the remote learning experience during the fourth quarter. The most recent survey from May also included questions focusing on the 2020-2021 school year. 


“The feedback we have received from these surveying tools plays a significant role in our decision making,” said Miller. “We appreciate all of our families, staff and community members who took the time to respond.”


Miller will present the district’s final plan to the school board members at the June 29 Lakota Board of Education meeting. Click here for more information on how to attend the meeting via Zoom.