If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that schools, teachers, students, and families can be incredibly innovative when it comes to educating and learning in challenging circumstances. We saw some students adapt to virtual learning while others struggled without in person instruction. We also saw some great results come out of “pandemic pods,” small groups of students who met in person or virtually to receive small group instruction, enriching lessons, and/or tutoring. It’s those pandemic pods that inspired Rep. Julie Emerson’s HB 421 to formalize these pods for ongoing use.
As outlined in HB 421, learning pods are groups of at least ten students, enrolled in a public school, that receive instruction in a small group setting. Learning pods will be led by a teacher who must meet all of the regular requirements of a public school teacher. Learning pods will allow teachers to be creative, innovative, and tailor their instruction to their small class size. We are very excited to see this bill become law, and to see school district and local education agencies really run with this innovative idea!
The nuts & bolts of this bill:
- This only impacts public schools including public charter schools.
- Each learning pod will have a minimum of ten students.
- Students may only join a learning pod if requested by the parent/guardian or recommended by the school and accepted by the parent/guardian (students cannot be forced to participate without parent/guardian approval).
- Learning pods can be held in innovative locations: on campus, remotely, hybrid in person and virtual systems, museums, libraries, office buildings, etc.
- Learning pods will be held to the same standards as all other public schools.
- The learning pod’s students will be included as part of the school district’s or local education agency’s enrollment count and all that dictates (funding, etc.).
- Each learning pod will be linked to a regular public school.
- The hosting public school will be assigned by the school district or local education agency for the purpose of special education services, extracurricular activities including sports and arts programs, testing, accountability, and other state-mandated requirements.
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