Lake Pend Oreille School District closed in mid-March due to COVID-19 and quickly made plans for remote learning. The staff took two days right after the school board soft closure to create plans, packets, and video lessons. After those two days, they were rolling with distance learning and delivering lessons and support materials in one to two week time intervals. We spoke with Andra Murray, director of teaching and learning to learn more.
These are indeed new times, and our LPOSD staff has been incredibly agile in adjusting to remote learning. No single format works for every student in every family, so we’ve worked hard to provide online opportunities and packet delivery for students who lack internet access or prefer to work in a paper-pencil format.
Flexibility has been the key.
We all can agree when we are flexible; we all do better. This is no different for our teachers and staff who are making personal phone calls, creating video lessons, delivering packets to doorsteps, just really adapting to the family’s needs.
Bridging the technology gap
We are fortunate in that we do have one to one devices for our students in grades 7-12. A thank you to our staff and our tech team that mobilized those for students to use at home.
In grades K through six, not all families want their learners on a screen, so we have balanced that.
A big thank you to IBE the Idaho Businesses for Education for donating devices through their Community Activation Project. Our tech team worked quickly to set those up and distribute to elementary schools, particularly the fifth and sixth graders who have internet at home but needed a device. From there, the team worked their way down using those donated devices to distribute at the upper elementary grades.
We’ve also added some hotspots and WiFi connectivity in all of our school parking lots. Families can drive on an errand and stop in the parking lot to download an assignment.
Alternatively, our school PTA and PTO have donated thumb drives so you’ll see some of our elementary staff videotaping mini-lessons and then delivering or mailing that thumb drive so families can follow along each week.
It is a team effort.
Greatest challenges for our school system
We are built on relationships. High-quality education means adapting and adjusting to students in real time. Typically, they’re right in front of us, and we can modify and adjust in relation to their needs.
We’re all just craving those relationships and trying to do the best we can via distance learning but the biggest challenge is continuing to be adaptive to students’ needs. If you have a student in our system, please reach out to your teacher or your school. If you need more of something, less of something, some flexibility. Those relationships are just critical to how we do business. And we feel that absence right now.
Re-entry plans: Are students falling behind?
We know our learners and our families are engaging in the best ways possible. And that depends on their family situation. We’re trying to meet their needs and provide as many alternatives as possible.
What we do is know is our students are flexible and resilient. They are gathering the pieces that are meaningful now, and we will do what we can in the fall to adjust our pacing and our curriculum to meet those needs.
The Positive Side
It’s been so fun to see all of the innovation. I know we’ve all stretched in terms of our technological skills and thinking about how we can deliver a quick mini-lesson and then support it. You will see everything from teachers starting their own YouTube channels, investigating Google Classrooms, and doing “read alouds” on their Facebook page at night to support our families.
We have a learning management system at the secondary level called Schoology. So our staff is very adept at loading resources and mini-lessons there. I’ve seen staff personally driving packets to doorsteps, tutoring a student in a driveway honoring social distancing, a first-grade teacher missing her students, so she was reading to all the puppies they keep in the classroom and then sending that video out.
Our LPOSD educators are going above and beyond. The other absolute thank you is to our child nutrition team and food services team who have worked hard to get meals out to families in need.
We have four locations where we’re distributing meals Monday through Friday. Details.
Another thank you to our Facilities team, who are deep cleaning and sanitizing our buildings.
Thank you to our community members who have taken the time to support our local businesses, to send handwritten notes to educators and first responders. Connections look different now, but you still can seek ways to find those and lift our community.
It is a team effort.
You can watch our full interview with Andra, here: