Stamford Schools to Pilot High School Remote Learning Program


TwitterFacebookCopy LinkPrintEmail

STAMFORD — The district is piloting a remote learning program for high schoolers who need a more flexible schedule or have difficulty learning in an in-person setting. 

The program will be open for 30 students this fall on a rolling basis. Students will learn according to the district’s block schedule, meaning they will take four classes per semester.

Matt Laskowski, the district’s executive director of school innovation, said the program can be a good fit for students in a variety of situations – those whose extracurricular schedules impact their ability to attend school regularly, who have to work, or who have mental health issues that make it difficult to attend a traditional high school. 

“It could be anxiety. It could be [that] they belong to a performing arts organization where they’re traveling,” Laskowski said. “It could be that they’re participating in very high-level athletics … and also there might be some students who[se] family obligations or other work-related obligations may impact their ability to attend school on a regular basis.” 

Laskowski said he’d been part of meetings with different school personnel, such as special education directors and student support facilitators, where they discussed the challenges students face in the traditional school setting. 

“There just seemed to be a common theme, with students having increased social-emotional needs, and that serving as a barrier to them being able to come into school,” he said. 

Laskowski said the school will assign one teacher in the district to act as a “remote learning specialist,” helping students understand how the program works and monitoring their progress throughout the semester. He said the teacher will check in with the students and make sure they have any resources they need. 

In addition to these check-ins, Laskowski said, the teacher will schedule time to talk with students one-on-one and create time for a “community meeting” to build relationships and social skills. 

“As we know in remote learning, students won’t be afforded the same opportunities as somebody walking into a traditional school,” Laskowski said. “So we want to proactively build that and then purposely have opportunities for that community building.” 

The district is contracting with the educational technology company Edmentum to provide the curriculum for the program. The classes are in an asynchronous format, meaning students can do the work when they choose. Edmentum teachers will be responsible for grading the assignments, and the grades will be sent to Stamford’s remote learning specialist. 

“The idea is that students can fully access this asynchronously, as needed. So if they need to complete their assignments at 10 p.m. … they will be able to do that,” he said. 

While they won’t have access to the same classes they would in Stamford Public Schools, Laskowski said many of Edmentum’s courses overlap. The company also offers AP courses and college prep courses. 

Laskowski said he’s not sure whether 30 slots will be enough to fill the demand. 
The district will be having two informational sessions via Zoom on Tuesday, at 7:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Applications in multiple languages are available as well.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.