Increase in Gahanna-Jefferson's distance-learning enrollment prompts need to outsource

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Dustin Dashner teaches for the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools via the distance-learning model. He’s a Blacklick Elementary School third-grade teacher who also teaches students from High Point and Chapelfield elementary schools via distance learning.

About a dozen Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools middle schoolers are distance-learning this school year with teachers who aren’t employed directly by the school district.

Superintendent Steve Barrett said distance-learning classes at the elementary and middle school levels for the second semester, Jan. 11 to May 27, reached capacity, and the district doesn't have available staffing within the district to add new sections.

Although it was the goal to maintain distance-learning classes with district teachers, he said, changes prompted the need to partner with SchoolsPLP, a third-party provider that’s accommodating families who want to transition their students to distance learning.

Jill Elliott, G-J assistant superintendent, said 5,743 K-12 students are enrolled in the hybrid-learning model compared to 1,940 in the distance-learning model.

She said 210 students switched from hybrid to distance learning for the second semester, and 58 students changed from distance learning to hybrid for the second semester.

Elliott said 11 middle schoolers are enrolled in SchoolsPLP.

“Even though these numbers reflect adjustments made at the end of the first semester, we have worked hard to accommodate learning-model changes as families have requested them throughout the school year,” Elliott said. “To date, we have honored learning-model changes for over 1,100 students.” 

Elliott said many families who have switched to distance learning for the second semester said they were concerned about the high number of new COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Ohio. 

“Others indicated they made the change because they are responsible for the care of elderly grandparents or other high-risk family members and were trying to limit contact outside their family circle,” she said.

According to the "Why SchoolsPLP" section on the SchoolsPLP website at schoolsplp.com/about/why-schools-plp/, the provider helps schools tailor a specific plan and set of curriculum benefiting both students and staff within any online or blended-learning model.

“With over 550 digital curricula options, as well as the curricula in printed form, SchoolsPLP brings together multiple providers to a single platform, creating the best learning experience for students," according to the website.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla