Lakota Gets Feedback

Lakota Gets Feedback from Parents, Students and Staff
Posted on 09/08/2020
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Survey results graphicLakota Local School continues to gather feedback from its parents, staff and students regarding the 2020-2021 school year. “This is new to all of us,” said Superintendent Matthew Miller about the reopening of the district amid the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Since the mandatory closing in March, the district has invited feedback as it navigated through uncharted territory.  “Everything about this year is fluid and it’s imperative that we continue to listen and make adjustments as needed.” According to Miller, the district will continue to send surveys for the foreseeable future, but will move to monthly instead of weekly. 

In-Person Learning

Following the second week of school, the district repeated the survey it sent after the staggered start, with very few modifications. The district was intentional with the questions asked, wanting to compare the results to the ones garnered from the week one survey. “We want our students and staff members to feel safe at school,” said Miller, who gave Board of Education members an update at its recent work session on Aug. 31. “We’ve added many new safety protocols that will impact the day and we need feedback from our kids, our staff and our parents so that we can make any adjustments needed.”

Week two’s survey saw about two-thirds of the responses compared to the first week, with 4,391 people sharing their thoughts. Parents and guardians accounted for 65 percent of the respondents, with students and staff making up 19 and 16 percent respectively.

The results were fairly consistent, with slight dips as expected. Eighty-eight percent felt “very safe” or “pretty safe” with all students attending school compared with 93 percent after the first week’s staggered start. “With all of our students back in school for the second week, we are pleased that the majority of our staff and students continue to feel safe,” said Miller. “By basically doubling the number of students in classrooms and hallways, there’s going to be an adjustment period as everyone learns to respect and follow the physical distancing guidelines.”

The district also looked at how much the new safety protocols, including required facial covers and physical distancing, impact student learning. Here, the results were fairly consistent between the two weeks with 88 percent and 85 percent responding “not at all” or “a little bit” from week one to week two. Comments from parents and students noted that physical distancing, especially during class changes at the high schools, need to be improved.

Knowing that this was a concern, Ben Brown, principal at Lakota West High School, has increased the transition time between classes. “We extended our passing periods (from five) to 10 minutes,” he said, noting that this also gives staff more time to sanitize desks and touch points in classrooms. Students are not as rushed getting to class so they can spread out more when stopping at their lockers. Along with staff monitoring the hallways, the school is also using regular announcements to remind students about physical distancing. 

The impact of the safety protocols at lunch also changed very little between weeks one and two. There was only a one percent difference from respondents feeling that lunch has been significantly impacted, increasing from 22 percent to 23 percent.

“I am really proud to see how our kids are responding to wearing masks in school and being socially distant,” said John Mattingly, principal of Adena Elementary School. “Our families prepped their children well!” 

Mattingly is also very proud of the care his teachers and staff are demonstrating towards students. “Our staff has also worked hard to show empathy, and walk our students along, when learning these new routines,” he said. “As a principal, the exciting thing for me is to see that the learning hasn’t stopped and how our staff, students, and families have been so resilient and took this step forward! We are not perfect but we are getting better, and will always be together.”

Feedback from virtual learning families is also important to Lakota’s curriculum team. The second VLO survey closed on Sept. 4 with 1,044 responses. 

Overall, the majority of respondents continue to feel that the district is going in the right direction for in-person learning. “We know that this is a fluid situation and adjustments will continue to be made,” said Miller. “We appreciate the support of our families and community. Our teachers and students are doing a great job given these very challenging circumstances.”

Virtual Learning Option

With 25 percent of its students opting to enroll in Lakota’s new Virtual Learning Option (VLO), Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Keith Koehne continues to gather feedback from parents. “Virtual learning looks very different in kindergarten compared to 11th grade,” said Koehne. “We want feedback from our families. We want to know what is working and what needs to be improved.” Unlike many online schools, Lakota’s VLO was built by its own teachers this summer. This means that students continue to learn from the Lakota curriculum in addition to having Lakota teachers.

The second VLO survey closed on Sept. 4 with 1,044 responses compared to 1,500 following the first week of school. The questionnaire asked about the comfort level of accessing the curriculum and personal connections made with teachers, as well as the most positive aspects of the first week as well as the challenges.

Ninety-seven percent had a positive response to the learning management system, with 71 percent being “very comfortable.” 

The most positive aspect of VLO shifted from getting to know the teachers to 76 percent enjoying the flexibility to set their own learning schedule. Getting to know the teachers came in second at about 39 percent. On a scale of one to five, 67 percent of parents rated the personal connection with teachers a four or five.

The biggest challenges with virtual learning were consistent with the previous survey. Forty-eight percent cited the limited interaction with other students as the top challenge compared to 45 percent after the staggered start. Unclear learning expectations followed at 36 percent, up slightly from 35 percent. Comments from parents noted the need for consistent methods of communication and more online meetings with secondary teachers. 


“Our team will be digging into the comments and breaking down the data by building and grade band for more targeted work and support,” said Koehne.

Click here to view the slide presentation Superintendent Miller delivered to the Lakota Board of Education at its Aug. 31 work session.