PASS team staff members Keitra Curnutt, Cyndy Grayson, Mary Ann Sturdivan, Dana Preston, and Stacy Gould help struggling students find the help they need. (Photo taken pre-pandemic)
Woodland High School’s highly successful Positive Academic Support System (PASS) identifies struggling students and provides them with the help they need to succeed, however, during an era of a pandemic with social distancing and remote learning presenting even more challenges for students, the PASS staff used lessons learned from the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) 2020 season to continue reaching students.
Woodland High School’s PASS program connects first-year Freshman students with dedicated staff members who help mentor and guide them to a successful freshman year. However, learning remotely presents an increase in the variety of challenges facing students ranging from inadequate or no internet service, no dedicated quiet space to concentrate, or simply the inability to adapt to learning from home. “Many students told us that they simply couldn’t focus when they tried to learn from home with distractions everywhere,” explained Stacy Gould, the PASS program coordinator. “Between an increasing number of struggling students when compared to average years combined with students who were not attending at all, we knew we needed to take action.”
The idea to bring struggling students in for in-person school started over the summer but crystallized when the NBA brought the concept of bubbles into the limelight. Working together with Principal Dr. Phillip Pearson and Assistant Principal Dan Uhlenkott, the PASS Program developed a way of bring students to the school for in-person learning based on the approach taken by the NBA for its 2020 season where the league’s teams and related staff lived in a secluded “bubble” on the Disney company’s theme park in Florida to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while still allowing the season to continue.
Students stay in bubble groups of around six students, wear masks, and practice social distancing to limit the spread of the virus
In a similar fashion, the PASS team separates groups of students to enable contract-tracing and limit the spread of the virus. “We bring students in small groups of around six students to the school where they remain in their cohort or ‘bubble’ for the entire day, returning home with the same students and not interacting with other students from other bubbles,” explained Pearson. “Students wear masks the entire day except when eating and even their meals are brought to them at their study area.”
Students use their chromebook laptop computers to work from the school’s library which provides access to high-speed internet and staff support. By keeping students in dedicated bubble groups and using health department guidelines which include keeping students in the same group sitting at least six feet apart and arranging bubbles at a minimum of 30 feet apart, the bubble approach limits the potential for a virus breakout to spread. “Furthermore, students must attest to their health and receive temperature checks each day to ensure no symptoms of the virus are present before attending schools,” said Pearson.
Working from the high school's library, students have access to high-speed internet and help from staff members, if needed.
An optional program, the PASS team identifies students who may need assistance and reaches out to their families to see if the students would like to participate in the bubbles. Most students jump at the chance. “I’ve had students who hated attending school in-person before the pandemic tell me how excited they were to come back and return to a sense of normalcy,” said Gould. “In addition to having access to internet, these students also have access to staff members who can provide guidance and additional assistance when students need more help learning new material.”
The students participating in the program have been more than willing to adhere to the strict health guidelines required for in-school learning. “It's in the kids’ self-interest to follow the rules,” explained Dr. Pearson. “The better our students are about restricting the spread outside of the school, the more likely it is that we'll be able to expand these bubbles and invite more students to attend.”
Families with students interested in participating in the PASS Program can reach out to Principal Pearson at email@example.com, Assistant Principal Uhlenkott at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Woodland High School main office directly at (360) 841-2800.
Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates our students and serves the community, by visiting our dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Stay informed with the latest updates about the eventual transition from remote learning to in-person learning and more about COVID-19 at Woodland Public Schools’ dedicated website: www.woodlandschools.org/covid-hq