HOW WILL YOUNGER LEARNERS, FAMILIES COPE WITH ONLINE LEARNING?

Grade-level teachers make adjustments; lessons will be online and pencil-to-paper

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Jason Hillman

The COVID-19 outbreak has left the halls of Parkside Elementary School empty along with thousands of other schools across the nation.  

Through many online programs such as Zoom, Canvas, etc.,  high school and middle school students will be able to remain caught up with their schoolwork while continuing to learn more material. 

This comes as a result of Park County School District 1 announcing that traditional school will be postponed at least through April 17. Online school will begin on April 6.

But how will the school closure and COVID-19 outbreak impact elementary school students? 

In most cases, educators cannot give a kindergartner or first-grade student a laptop and expect them to sustain what they have learned throughout the year as easily as older students are able to. Additionally, younger students may require more one-on-one time with their teachers. Studies and data indicate elementary school is a crucial time for children because this is where they learn to read, write and develop problem-solving skills. They need guidance and structure from their teachers in order to accomplish this, administrators say.

So how are elementary schools planning to implement online school?

“We are going to send home supplemental materials for students that their parents could help with if they are able to,” Parkside Principal Mr. Jason Hillman said. “Teachers will also do a daily Zoom meeting to check in on the younger students and will also record certain lessons as well as interactive read-alouds.” 

The teachers are awesome; they are working really hard and want to do the best job they can for the kids.”

— Mr. Jason Hillman, Parkside principal

Mr. Hillman also said grades are not a priority right now. Parkside’s main focus is to give as much feedback to their students as possible while helping them retain what all they have learned so far in addition to trying to teach as many lessons as they can online. 

“This has really been a challenge,” Mr. Hillman said. “Nothing like this has ever really happened before.” 

Mr. Hillman said the rest of the Parkside staff is handling and adjusting to this situation very well. 

“The teachers are awesome; they are working really hard and want to do the best job they can for the kids,” Mr. Hillman said. 

Title 1 interventionist Mrs. Kelli Schiller says her plans are mainly on hold until classroom teachers are able to get their plans set up. Then she will see how she can be a support in the area of reading. 

“Right now my time is being spent setting up a way to stay in communication with my kiddos, researching my favorite online reading resources that may be helpful to parents and teachers and trying to design some reading resource pages parents or teachers might be able to use as a reference,” Mrs. Schiller said. 

Many parents are still required to work from home, which makes it difficult for them to assist elementary-age children with their learning. This is when older siblings enrolled in either the high school or middle school might have to assist.

“We recognize that many families have multiple school-aged children at home and that some of our high school students will need to help with caring for younger siblings while their parents/guardians are at work,” Powell High School Principal, Mr. Tim Wormald said. 

“Because of this, we have asked our teachers to maintain flexibility as we transition to remote learning. This is a new endeavor for all of us, so flexibility and patience are of utmost importance,” Wormald added. 

If all the schools in PCSD1 are able to remain flexible, it would free up some time for older siblings of elementary students to help them with learning from home.. 

“I feel blessed to be a part of Park County School District 1,” Mrs. Schiller said. “We are family. We are there for one another; everyone is helping out where they can to provide the best services for other students.

“This time of hardship has brought us together as a district. You learn the most and gain the most from messy times.”