At Govans Elementary School, Kate Walsh-Little’s lesson for her third-graders wasn’t tucked between textbooks: it was straight from the heart.
“I hope that they learn that they still have a community of people who will support them no matter what happens,” she said.
For now, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays students will attend classes virtually. Like a normal day, the hours are filled with activities and homework.
“I tried to bring our class fish home,” Walsh-Little said. “I brought my easel and teaching materials. I just wanted to try and make it as comforting for the kids as possible so that they could feel like they were connected this way.”
City schools has partnered with “Knowledge on the Go” to give video lessons from “Great Minds,” a public benefit corporation that provides curricula to students nationwide. They are also using a new set of distance learning packets each week for students to download on their distance learning webpage.
Each Monday, students can pick up work packets at the district’s 18 meals sites.
While the changes mean learning can go on, Walsh-Little said it’s definitely not the same as seeing her students’ smiling faces each day.
“I really miss not being one-on-one with them in the classroom. That’s the hardest part,” she said. “I’ve already started some online sessions with them and the minute I saw them that’s when I really knew how much I missed them.”
Principal Bernarda Kwaw is proud of this textbook example of teamwork making the launch of online learning possible.
Despite that, there are challenges.
“We’re concerned about the number of students that don’t have access to devices and/or the internet,” Kwaw said. “So many of our teachers have gone above and beyond and have gone so far as to deliver learning packets to students that aren’t able to get to the nearby meal sites.”
There’s no way to tell how the curriculum will be impacted until in-person classes resume, but right now students and families know that whether on Wi-Fi or in spirit, they’re all connected.
“Everyone is working to grow and make sure that we’re meeting students’ needs,” Kwaw said.