Teachers across the country came together to ensure their students continue to have learning options while they are out of the classrooms.
Local educators did the same as they quickly switched gears, put their lessons in learning packets and into online forums.
Students were initially slated to come back to school on March 23 following Spring Break. However, the coronavirus pandemic had districts across the state pushing back the start of classes until April 13 and 14.
Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez said Seguin ISD is trying to “ensure structural continuity,” while recognizing that not everyone has access to technology.
The district handed out Chromebooks to more than 400 high schoolers in need last week, and is set to check out iPads to junior and elementary students this week, Gutierrez said.
“We’re encouraging families to check out one per family because the technology devices are limited. Based on last week with the secondary pickup it went really smoothly,” he said. “As of right now, it does appear to be the case that we have a sufficient amount of technology to check out to our students.”
District staff created the Seguin Succeeds at Home webpage for students and parents to access information for at-home learning, Gutierrez said.
“We have curriculum specific to every grade level and it is going to look different at elementary compared to secondary,” he said. “Elementary, we outline the activities that we are encouraging students to engage in as well as providing links to online programs that students are already used to.”
The students can access programs they are familiar with such as iStation, Google Classroom and APEX.
“There is not anything that students are going to find new or surprising because we have provided resources online that our students are already using on a regular basis and in many cases are already using at home,’ Gutierrez said. “We just want to encourage our parents to ensure that the learning continues.”
Much like the summer slide that happens when children are away from school, educators are concerned with a possible spring slide, Gutierrez said.
However, seeing how much students and parents have already taken to the online platforms, Gutierrez is encouraged the students will push forward on remote learning.
“It seems like there has been a lot of activity and we’re seeing a lot of our students logging in to our online platforms,” he said. “Jefferson Elementary has already logged in about 3,000 minutes on iStation in one week. I’m really proud of the efforts of our students, but also our parents.”
In all, Gutierrez is proud of the efforts his staff has made to keep students engaged.
“I’m really proud of the central administration staff and our campus staff for making this all happen in just a few days,” he said. “It seems our world has been shaken up quite a bit. We have completely transformed the way we operate. It takes a village to raise a child and the way this school district staff and community have come together really makes me proud to be part of this community.”
Navarro ISD faculty and staff spent the past week gathering technology from classrooms, putting together lesson plans and preparing boxes of supplies for students to learn at home.
“Our teachers worked extraordinarily hard last week some on campus, some at home, putting together content to our students,” Superintendent Dee Carter said. “Our technology department worked most of the weekend setting up the technology aspect of allowing kids to learn remotely.”
Staff members visited all of the campuses pulling what iPads and Chromebooks they could find and getting them set up for elementary and intermediate students. Junior high and high school students already had Chromebooks checked out to them, Carter said.
“We pulled together, from each classroom, enough iPads for our smallest children and enough Chromebooks for our older elementary and intermediate students to provide one of those devices to each child,” she sad.
Faculty members loaded up bankers boxes with the technology, learning packets, lists of resources and materials.
“We prepared 1,020 boxes for pick up,” Carter said. “We will continue the learning process for Navarro ISD students.”
Carter said she was in awe of her staff and how they rose to the occasion.
“They have jumped in with great enthusiasm and intensity to get the job done and try to make sure our kids do not have big gaps in their learning,” she said. “The outlook our teachers have and we hope that our families have as well, even in these very abnormal times, we want our students to keep the routine of the learning. Our faculty has been phenomenal and our support staff wonderful in making this happen.”
Part of that is giving the children a schedule to help them stay on task while they are learning remotely.
“Each campus has set up a schedule for each student to be in contact with their teacher and to be able to have communication back and forth in one format or another, so they can continue to learn and to make it as normal as possible under the circumstances,” Carter said.
Navarro ISD Chief Instructional Officer Lacey Gosch posted a video to the district’s website and Facebook pages to help parents navigate Classlink.
The district is aware that some students may not have internet access and is encouraging parents to reach out to their child’s campus to find out what they can do to help the lessons flow.
“If they can not access internet, they need to email a teacher or call the campus between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and let them know they do not have any internet access,” Carter said. “We will find a way to continue that child’s education.”
Knowing this is a stressful time, Carter said she is praying for her staff and students’ health and well being and is hopeful they’ll be able to head back to school soon.
“In the meantime, we will do our best, our teachers will do their best, and we know our families will respond in like kind,” she said.
Faculty and staff at Marion ISD came together to make work packets for students and families while the schools are closed.
While some educators put lesson plans together, others — joined by administration and other staff members — called each student to check in with them and find out their technology situation, Marion Superintendent Kelly Lindholm said.
“One of the things we did is those students that did not have a computer at home, we checked out technology to them so they can access everything,” she said.
All students were given the option of paper packets or online learning, Lindholm said.
“We ran packets because we know some of our younger kids it is a challenge do to some of that learning online, but we gave them the option,” she said. “Secondary is predominantly doing it online, but there are packets available if it is requested.”
As part of the learning packets, teachers included links to free online resources to help supplement students’ remote learning, Lindholm said.
“We’re giving them a plethora of additional resources to look at and to gauge as far as how much they want to push their children in addition to what we’re providing,” she said. “There is a variety of ways that we are pushing this instruction out to the kids, so that everybody has a chance to continue their learning.”
Lindholm commended her staff for getting the work together in such a short amount of time.
“Everybody has been incredible,” she said. “They are all pitching in, throwing ideas around, asking what can we do and how can we do it, and they’re coming up with solutions. They are figuring out ways to get instruction to the kids and quite a few of them are actually very excited about this challenge and they’re rising to the occasion and putting things together. Our staff, I feel like, has gone above and beyond what has been asked of them and has not complained once.”
It’s not just the staff at Marion ISD, Lindholm said they’ve received offers of assistance from around the community.