School districts preparing for no-contact days

Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 7:05 PM AKDT
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It’s the first day of

. As districts come together to figure out how they’re going to handle the change, teachers say some schools are going to have a more challenging adjustment than others.

As of Monday, presidents of the Matanuska-Susitna and Anchorage Education Associations said schools are in the planning process of making the switch.

Channel 2 reached out to various school districts including Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough for comment on how distance learning will be implemented. As they were in the process of planning, they declined interview requests until they had it figured out.

They said those announcements would be made in coming days.

It’s undoubtedly going to be more difficult in areas with less internet and certain teachers in the schools according to Anchorage Education Association President, Tom Klaameyer.

Klaameyer is also a high school social studies teacher.

“Both my wife and I have taught online before for high school students so we’re familiar with various platforms and feel comfortable doing that,” he said, “not everybody has that experience, and it’ll be interesting to see, especially at the lower grade levels and meeting the needs of special education students.”

Klaameyer said he’s confident older students in high school will adapt to the change easily as a generation of students who grew up around technology that made online chatting possible.

He said students aren’t the only ones who need to learn how to adjust to remote learning.

“There’s going to be some professional development,” Klaameyer said, “teaching people how to do the online teaching, and we don’t know exactly where it’s going to lead. We’re certainly thankful for the time that we have to be able to prepare.”

Dianne Shibe, the Education Association president in the Mat-Su said, there, it is also an ever-changing and fluid situation. They are coming up with how they’ll handle remote learning, but she said there is nothing set in stone.

With less readily available high-speed internet, Shibe said there are more talks of teachers creating supplemental materials to send to students’ homes in addition to doing online classes. She said there is consideration of using the busses to get them to students.

She said the week of March 16th, teachers should be creating that supplemental material to hopefully roll out to the students the following Monday, March 23rd.

“What that means is that they’re not going to – for this first week – attempt to teach any new skills,” she said, “if a student has already learned long division, then they’ll be at home practicing long division.”

Shibe said there’s a lot of talks amongst teachers on how to make this work right now, but strongly encourages people to reach out to the district with what they need.

In both MSBSD and ASD, announcements have been made that teachers will be reaching out to parents to get a ‘needs assessment’ of what individual families would need in order for their kids to continue learning.

Those calls are set to happen on March 16th and 17th.

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