Educators finding new ways to teach
With the extension of school closures into Douglas County’s spring break, educators are finding ways to keep students up to speed until April 20.
Under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order, schools are to remain closed until April 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Since that’s four days into Douglas’ spring break, students won’t return until the following Monday.
“All school employees are deemed to be essential and therefore may be called upon to assist with any support deemed necessary to support our students, even if that means working from home in some cases, working at off-site locations and working outside of job descriptions,” Superintendent Teri White said to district employees.
Douglas County’s distance learning plan has been approved by the Nevada Department of Education.
“Basically, what it means is that we will, to the best of our ability, provide continuation of education through distant means while schools are canceled,” White said. “That looks differently with every teacher.”
She said some teachers are providing packets while others are setting up Google Meets where students meet virtually with their teacher.
“The irony is that some of this is the exact work we are aspiring to engage in with EPIC (Modern Teacher) and our teachers have really stepped up,” she said. “Additionally, we have asked our teachers to be available to students for 2.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon virtually through any number of approved applications, and available through email all other work hours.”
White said that para-educators and support staff are working with teachers as they can to provide additional support to students in need of extra assistance.
“It is all so new, but our folks are really trying to ensure that your students are supported,” she said. “Finally, there is an expectation that teachers engage in two-way communication with students at least once a week to check on their progress, see if they need anything and just avail themselves to their students so that our kiddos know we are here to help and support them.”
She said so far the first couple of days have been mostly about helping students get connected so that they can access their teachers and their work.
“We have had teachers delivering materials to students, holding virtual birthday parties, it really has been amazing how our staff has totally reinvented the way we are providing education to our students,” she said.
Also under orders from the governor, all testing for accountability purposes, graduation requirements and federal reporting has been waived.
PBS Reno has launched Camp Curiosity, a free at-home “camp” to help meet the demand for trusted educational online resources, bringing the world to the fingertips of kids across central and Northern Nevada and northeastern California.
Camp Curiosity provides lesson plans, projects, games and videos that are connected to PBS Reno’s on-air programs – including “Curious George,” “Wild Kratts,” “Cat in the Hat,” and “Wild Nevada” – all free of charge. Also featured are interactive contests and chances for children to appear on television.
Parents, caregivers and educators can learn more at pbsreno.org/campcuriosity or call the Camp Curiosity hotline at (775) 600-0537.