Teachers, families try to adapt to online learning

 Maria Allard | 

June 5, 2020

On a social media post, Warren Consolidated Schools art teachers remind the students of the importance of art while school is not in session.

Photo provided by Warren Consolidated SchoolsAdvertisement

CENTER LINE/WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS — March 13 was the last day many local children attended school for the 2019-2020 school year.

On March 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that all K-12 school buildings — including public and private — would be closed in the state from March 16 through April 5 to slow the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was later ordered for the remainder of the school year.

With schools being closed, districts were required to submit a Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan in order to continue to receive state aid for operations. The plan needed to include a completed assurance document, budget outline and continuity of learning plan.

Because of the pandemic, educators were left to scramble to find ways to continue educating their students who would be at home. They were trained on programs like Google Classroom, Schoology and Zoom to keep in touch with students in a virtual format, either in a class format, small groups or one-on-one. Khan Academy YouTube videos have been popular for math lessons for students learning at their kitchen tables, living rooms and bedrooms.

Paper packets also were set home so students could keep up with their studies, and teachers made themselves available by telephone. Students have been asked to complete a certain amount of schoolwork per week, depending on their grade level. Art, STEM and music teachers also have been posting videos on YouTube and Facebook for students to try various projects at home. It has been an adjustment for teachers, students and parents who are making the best of these unprecedented times.

“We wanted to have every avenue to keep that connection with our students,” Van Dyke Public Schools Superintendent Piper Bognar said. “It’s sad without the kids. Everyone’s lives have been turned upside down.”

While trying to keep up with academics, Van Dyke also has provided a support hotline for students who might need mental health support during this time.

Right after the mandatory shutdown, Center Line Public Schools teachers, support staff and administrators began Google Educator certification training. School officials also conducted a technology survey to determine which families needed technological devices at home. In Center Line, the virtual units were developed using the Backwards Design Instructional Framework based on the Michigan-approved standards and Michigan Merit Curriculum.

At press time, summer school was still up in the air. Bognar said the district’s plans are to provide an online summer school program. No students will be in the buildings.

According to a letter from Warren Consolidated School Superintendent Robert Livernois, the district has plans to offer summer school in late July and August. The classes will be either on-line or in-person with appropriate social distancing requirements, depending on the guidelines from the MI-SAFE START PLAN.

“For summer activities like sports and marching band camps, we must take a wait-and-see approach, given the challenges of social distancing, but please know that we are working toward offering them if we are able to do so,” the letter stated.

While practicing social distancing, food distribution also continued during the stay-at-home orders. Check your district’s website for information about meal programs during the summer.

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