School districts coping with distance learning

School districts coping with distance learning
Educators with Jefferson Parish Schools hand out learning packets for students. (Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - At Marie Riviere Elementary in Bucktown, there is a steady flow of vehicles with students in the backseat picking up booklets with two weeks’ worth of assignments.

The booklets are one way the district is working with students. On the school website, there are several resources, separated by grades.

"We're concerned about any learning loss of our students,” Superintendent Cade Brumley. “Nothing will replace a student being in front of a qualified certified classroom teacher every day."

He hopes the work students are getting in packets and online will fill the gap. "We've said always that the parent is the child's first teacher and that's never been more important than it is right now," Brumley said.

As we enter the third week of students learning at home, Brumley says, the best thing to do is keep a schedule.

"Students need structure. Whether they are at home with their family or at school with their teacher,” Brumley said. “Structure is very important in the life of a student."

Jefferson Parish teachers handing out work packets to students.
Jefferson Parish teachers handing out work packets to students. (Source: WVUE)

"It's weird but so far so good," said Jeff Smith.

The last two weeks, Smith’s first grader, Benson Smith, worked closely with his mom and grandparents as they created their own lesson plan.

“One of my parents was a teacher, so we have a little bit of background to work with,” said Smith.

This week, they’re getting help from the district. "We're still getting into a routine and there's no telling how long it's going to last. We'll figure it out in a way,” Smith said.

The timeline for when students will return to class is unclear.

Monday, Governor John Bel Edwards extended the current shelter at home order, including school closures, for at least April 30th to match one set by President Donald Trump.

“That only leaves the month of May. I am not sure what the situation will be, what the facts will be about extending,” Edwards said. He told the interim state superintendent to start working with superintendents across the state to make the “smartest, most strategic decisions they can for the maximum benefit of our young people.”

In Jefferson and Orleans parish, both superintendents are already working on multiple contingency plans.

"We're planning for the long haul. Of course, as our governor provides additional information and the mayor through the city of New Orleans provide additional information we can understand when things will start to change,” Lewis said. “But what we can assure our community and our parents, and our students is that we are going to keep them engaged to their education.”

In Jefferson Parish, Brumley says they have been working on two-week intervals, “but we also recognize that we don’t know what the future holds. So, internally our team is working on a number of contingency plans based on the fact of what does happen in the long term,” Brumley said. “So, we can be prepared to serve our students when they come back to us whatever point that is. If they don’t come back to us in the near future being able to serve them during the interim.”

In the meantime, each district is making sure students continue to learn.

“It’s kind of like school at your house. How has it been? Good,” said first grader Benson Smith.

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