With his school closed during to the coronavirus, Greater Johnstown Elementary student Camedon Williams, 8, has been having a mini-vacation, playing video games, riding his bike and playing with his younger brother, Leone Williams, 3.
But their mother, Kim Owens, said that will change Monday.
“He has been warned that starting Monday we will be doing some homeschool work,” Owens said. “He is already such a smart kid and I want him to strive and continue to reach higher than I ever did.”
Owens is employed through WorkLink Staffing, a temporary employment agency in Johnstown. She said that as of Thursday, her employer was closed.
Until that point, she and husband Sigismond Williams were making arrangements for child care during the shutdown. Then most day care centers were forced to close.
Like many parents, Owens said she is still figuring out how to deal with her children being home all day.
“Things have been a little crazy, going from a normal-structure day to now basically a free-for-all,” Owens said.
In recent days her husband has began working from home, Owens said.
‘Keep him engaged’
Camedon Williams, has been enjoying his time away from school, but admitted he’s looking forward to returning so he can see his friends.
Because of the work schedule of his parents, there hasn’t been much time for any learning activities – aside from a recent science experiment.
“We tried to make slime, but it didn’t turn out very well,” Camedon Williams said.
Owens plans to investigate educational sites and look at Johnstown’s website over the coming days to create a plan for her son so he can work on subjects such as reading and math and find “some cool science experiments for his age to keep him engaged.”
Camedon Williams, though, said he’d much rather be playing video games.
In place of normal instruction, some school districts, such as Ferndale Area, have taken to social media to provide resources for parents and students.
Every day this week, the Ferndale district’s Facebook page has been sharing information ranging from www.ABCMouse.com and www.AdventureAcademy.com to a link to the Kahn Academy, which has created a “daily schedule” for all grade levels.
Richland School District encouraged parents to read with their children and reminded them that the students have access to Discovery Education’s online portal at www.discoveryeducation.com, while Portage School District advised families of different activities students could do while at home, such as practicing math skills and taking a walk.
On Twitter a collaborative effort between teachers and parents began this week with the hashtag #bettertogether.
Educational materials and projects are being shared with the hashtag so students can continue to learn.
‘Great deal of uncertainty’
After the closure, public schools around the area did not pursue any alternative education for various reasons but that doesn’t mean the schools aren’t looking into it.
Central Cambria and Conemaugh Valley school districts used social media to contact parents, asking them to fill out a survey regarding technology and internet access.
“An online/hybrid form of education is something that we are researching at this time,” Conemaugh Valley Superintendent Shane Hazenstab said. “There is a great deal of uncertainty as we look ahead. We just want to make sure that we are considering our options.”
Both schools are one-to-one, which means there’s enough devices for students K-12 to use.
If the adjustment to online instruction is made, those devices will need to be distributed – another complication of the situation the superintendents said they will deal with during the COVID-19 period.
Results of the survey are still being compiled at both districts, but Central Cambria Superintendent Jason Moore said the parent response has been good.
“The results of the survey are that an overwhelming majority of our students have access to high-speed internet,” Moore said.
‘Continuity of education’
Another concern is the education of special needs students now that there are restrictions with face-to-face instruction, Moore said.
According to the school guidance page on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s website, education.pa.gov, schools are not required to offer any continuing education during the course of the closure.
If a district chooses to move forward with alternative assignments, that can be done with online or digital learning opportunities, Flexible Instruction Days for schools with approved plans or non-digital learning opportunities.
But a district then has to make sure students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities as the other students.
This goes for English as a second language students as well.
“The decision to employ one or more of these methods of continuity of education is to be made at the local level based on feasibility, availability of resources, access and equity considerations and the commonwealth’s social distancing recommendations,” the website says.
School will resume March 30, after the two weeks of closure are complete, unless the suspension is extended.
- ‘No one to help me’: Special education families struggle with coronavirus school closures – USA TODAY
- Jefferson City Board of Education hold first virtual meeting – Jefferson City News Tribune
- Smethport Area School District introduces education plan, notes firm end of year date – Bradford Era
- Navigating Education at Home – Spectrum News
- Special education inconsistent in California school districts during closures – EdSource
- EDUCATION FOR WHAT? | The Crusader Newspaper Group – The Chicago Cusader
- Hernando schools await governor’s decision on technical education building – Tampa Bay Times
- Police plan education, measured enforcement of statewide stay-at-home order – Press Herald
- Secretary DeVos Announces New Federal Deadline Flexibility for Career and Technical Education Leaders, Allowing Them to Focus on Serving Students During the COVID-19 Outbreak – U.S. Department of Education