A Note to ATECH Families

A Note to ATECH Families
Posted on 08/14/2020

As you know, the Appleton Area School District Board of Education voted unanimously to start the Fall term fully virtually. I wanted to reach out to our families to talk about what our plans are for returning to school this Fall virtually and when in-person school becomes possible.

Due to health and safety concerns and the number of students at ATECH who take some courses at West, we plan to follow the same schedule West and the other traditional high schools use, which will be fully articulated soon.

For example, the current plan is to begin virtually and then use a hybrid system, when face to face is possible, at West with students receiving two days of face to face instruction and three days of online instruction. We would follow that same model at ATECH.

During the fully virtual phase, students will have scheduled times during the day where they need to log-in to courses. We know that there are questions about what instructional time would look like when in person and when online. First, things will look different than they did in the spring. All online instruction will follow a schedule, and students will need to check in with teachers at specific times when they are at home studying online. We believe that this is an important way to partner with our families in providing better structure for our students through predictable routines that will lead to better student success.

As for our face to face (in person) time, when available, we will need to prioritize lab time as our students need access to the equipment, machinery, and tools they are learning to use. The first several days of lab instruction will come with the traditional safety lessons, but we will also be adding safety lessons for what school routines are in the Covid-19 era when we are face to face. As always, safety is our first priority. Following safety lessons, when students are at ATECH in person, most of their time will be spent practicing in labs and getting feedback from our teachers.

We are also working on securing individual personal protective equipment for each student. In past years, students shared welding helmets. We intend to have a welding helmet for each student as an additional precaution along with welding jackets and other items that were, in the past, shared. We have also reached out to our business partners to see if there is a possibility of getting students access to borrow equipment or simulators which would help students practice skills while at home.

Our instructors have been working hard on their online instructional skills to enhance student learning during online instruction. We know that we are a hands-on school and the majority of our students learn best by doing, but please know that we are doing everything we can to help our students learn the necessary skills, even when online, and we are doing so in consultation with our business partners and with Fox Valley Technical College.

Finally, please know that we have been working with our district on what Youth Apprenticeship might look like this Fall. Right now, we are seeing if it is safe and possible to set up Youth Apprenticeship opportunities for students at workplaces where it is safe to do so. We will be doing our best to secure as many of these opportunities as possible.

Mark McQuade