School districts prepare for distance learning

OREGON — The state says there’s a chance students don’t return to their classrooms this school year. While teachers are preparing students and parents at home are wondering what distance learning will look like.

“Do our best kind of long term envisioning, prediction of what school might need to be for students,” Jennifer Patterson, Oregon Department of Education, said.

Students will soon continue their education all through a screen.

“The very same things that apply to learning in the classroom are the exact same things that will make distance learning come to life for students,” Patterson said.

With schools closing their doors under Governor Kate Brown’s executive order, school districts are forced to look at long-term distance learning.

“We want to create a really strong opportunity for students to continue learning and make sure that the bridge outside of school for them is as sturdy as it can be,” Patterson said.

Patterson says the state’s ‘Distance Learning for All’ plan will look different for each school district, but it will all focus on connection, specifically keeping communication between teachers and their students.

“First, reach out and connect. Connect with your students. That’s the foundation of teaching and learning. Anyone who has been a student knows that and anyone who teaches knows that as well,” Patterson said.

Each district will have two weeks for outlining their lesson plans.

The state suggests kindergarteners and first graders have about 45 minutes of teacher-led learning. Grades second and third are given an hour. Fourth and fifth have an hour and a half. Sixth grade through seniors in high school should have 30 minutes per teacher for a total of about three hours per day.

“There are times in the day where the teacher is really directing that learning and then times where the child is applying that learning, practicing that learning,” Patterson said.

While some schools are getting ahead of the curve right now, distance learning launches for all districts April 13.

“It won’t be perfect. There’s a lot we’ll figure out, but we hope that it provides a steady diet of learning and a continuation and continuity of education from students in this really extraordinary circumstance,” Patterson said.

Individual school districts and teachers will be in touch with specifics on what their students and parents should expect.

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