School Districts Prepare for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Written by Jordan Blossom

March 18, 2020

Blog

As a leader in the online education space, Proximity Learning has a few recommendations for your district to make sure you’re prepared for an uncertain environment. We set up remote learning for school districts all over the country and play a part in educating students, teachers, administration, and the greater community about how online learning can be most effective in their district, so we feel uniquely qualified to give you some pointers when it comes to your implementation of online learning. Here are a few tips to start thinking of now so that your district can be prepared for students potentially having to stay home for extended periods of time in the coming months. Any other questions about online learning that aren’t covered in this list? Reach out to us here.

1. Use of video conferencing software

Conferencing platforms like Zoom, Webex, Join.me, and more are essential for making sure that your students and teachers can stay connected and engaged with each other, no matter their physical location. These platforms allow for necessary classroom actions like raising hands, call and response, private and public chat with the teacher, and more. Many conferencing platforms even offer generous no-cost tiers. We encourage school districts to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest developments for their video conferencing platform of choice to ensure that students, teachers, and administrators are all ready to take advantage of everything they have to offer at a moment’s notice.

2. Access to a laptop or tablet

You know as well as anybody that a huge portion of education in 2020 takes place on an LCD screen. Students having access to their own device ensures that they are able to learn and stay engaged with their courses distraction-free. Google Chromebooks are an inexpensive and effective tool for getting computing devices into your students’ hands and can often be more effective than a phone or tablet due to the dedicated keyboard and mousepad. There are also granular controls for managing what a student is and is not able to do on their device, ensuring that they stay focused while attending their online classes.

3. Digitized course materials

Many course textbooks are now available digitally and can be read on laptops, tablets, phones, and more. Oftentimes, they are easily searchable and even have interactive elements, making them potentially even more modern and engaging than their physical counterparts. Take the time to make sure that you and your students are utilizing these materials so that they always have access to important course materials at all times.

4. Keeping consistent schedules and syllabi

Keeping your students on the same schedule at home as the one they have in school. Proximity Learning knows the importance of working within a school’s bell schedule – making scheduling as clear and available as possible helps make for an easy transition between physical and digital learning environments. Even though remote instruction often means that classes can be recorded and distributed to students later, it’s better to just have those recordings as a reference. Nothing beats students being able to have live conversations and interactions with their instructors.

5. Making sure students can stay connected

It’s better to prepare than be forced to react. Check with students now on the status of internet connectivity in their home so that you can put together an alternative learning plan if need be. It’s already well known that many students do not have broadband access at home, meaning that they might not have the ability to stream video or download important attachments and homework assignments. Some districts have decided to hand out wireless hotspots with unlimited data plans to help ensure that all of their students can access the internet from home.

6. Empower your teachers

Encourage your teachers to use every tool at their disposal, and maybe even invest in a few extra tools to promote greater effectiveness. Things like standup whiteboards, lapel microphones, green screens, and more can help a teacher increase their effectiveness while teaching online. When using a green screen, teachers can display videos behind them, edit documents, show diagrams, and more while keeping the students engaged by staying face to face with them. Also, ensure that administration is available and prepared for playing a support role with teachers – if they run into problems with technology, you’ll want to be there to solve the problem as soon as possible.

Proximity Learning has multiple plans available for school districts that want to plan for potential closure. First, we have our PLI’s Flex Plan, can be ready in about three weeks. PLI will train districts on using the system when the decision to close is made. This plan allows for maximum flexibility when it comes to commitment, provides the school district with the same access to PLI virtual classrooms and digital course content that the Proactive Plan does. PLI will train district teachers, administrators, students and parents on using the system upon the decision to close schools.

One of our more unique options is the Individual Plan – this one is for families who decide to pull their student(s) out of a school that may not have closed yet or hasn’t implemented its own online education policy. This plan grants fast and easy access to live taught classrooms for any core and world language subject through the utilization of Proximity Learning’s live online classrooms, ensuring that their education is kept on course regardless of circumstance. World language and core courses are offered along with student access to PLI teacher office hours.

If you have any other questions about how your school can adapt to online learning, we encourage you to reach out. Our goal is to ensure equity of access to quality instruction for students everywhere – staying home shouldn’t mean that students lose out on education.

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