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District 153 making e-learning plans for next few weeks

Homewood teachers are making e-learning lesson plans after the Illinois State Board of Education sent school districts a notice students will not be returning to their classrooms before April 30.

ISBE is expecting remote learning to begin this week, but the District 153 calendar still has students off — two weeks for what ISBE declared Act of God days and a week for spring vacation.

The district did offer students enrichment activities while they’ve been home, said Superintendent Dale Mitchell.  

“Teachers spent time with students Zooming (a social media contact method) and spending time above and beyond what was expected during the Act of God days,” he said. “It’s not going to be perfect or meet everyone’s needs. Patience and compassion is what we’re trying to teach our kids.”

With those days soon to be behind them, and directives from ISBE for remote learning, the superintendent noted teachers had been busy this week planning materials and e-learning lessons set to begin April 6. Groups of teachers have been working together virtually.

“We are putting together plans this week and making them as robust as we can,” Mitchell said. “It’s not going to replace those teachers, but our teachers are working hard to try and prepare kids for the learning on Monday.”

Another stumbling block to overcome is the need for devices. Administrators know each family in the district doesn’t have a device, whether that is a smart phone, an iPad or a computer, so the technology team is getting devices ready to share with students at Churchill and Hart Schools. Willow School students will be getting “paper and pencil” educational packets.

The district is obliged to pay its bus contract, so Mitchell said using the bus service could be one delivery method for administrators to distribute materials. Details haven’t been finalized. 

“During this crisis our priorities remain the same: the safety of students and staff is first. Making sure the kids are getting lunches, we distributed thousands of lunches,” the past few weeks, he explained. 

“And now, we’re moving into remote learning because we feel this is going to be a long closure,” he lamented. “Our staff is working hard for a stronger academic feel” to the materials and expectations for students by following the recommendations of the ISBE, he added.

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