Seattle-area students adapt to learning at home

KING COUNTY, Wash. (CNN) – Children across the nation are staying home from school due to the coronavirus.

There were more than 100,000 elementary to high school-aged students in the Seattle area home from class Thursday morning alone.

As the virus spreads, it’s the new normal for students all over the country.

How do you teach chemistry to an empty classroom? AP chemistry teacher Randy Huybers is having to get used to that reality. “If we’re gonna have to do this for more than a couple of weeks this is gonna be isolating,” Hybers said. “But human connection was through the interface I was very impressed with that.”

His students now see him through a computer screen. It’s a familiar story throughout the region.

For tens of thousands of students in the Seattle area, school is now happening at home. And when you step inside one of those homes, what you see is the new reality of education personified in a family.

Keri Molitor is a mother who’s a teacher, teaching from home while a father with the school district helping out at home and a daughter, elementary school-age Makenna, is going through as normal a school day as you can from her living room.

Makenna said, “It’s kind of weird but also fun. I didn’t really have that much classwork I had to do today but I still had some.”

Keri explained, “Normally at school, I’d have seen all 6 of my classes for 50 minute periods and also have had a prep period so very different from home.”

The Molitors are part of the Seattle-area North Shore School District, among the first places in the country to make a deliberate move to online learning because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

Michelle Reid is the Northshore School District’s superintendent. She said, “It was a convergence of data points that eventually led to increasing absences and finally 26 of our schools having the impact of some exposure or another.”

Seattle’s public schools are among those that won’t be able to go forward with online learning. Instead, they’re having to suspend classes altogether for at least two weeks.

Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Tim Robinson said, “Not all 53,000 students have online access or a device, a computer, so if we can’t provide that online learning for all of our students, then we can’t.”

It also means school lunches are being made available for pickup or delivery to households who depend on it.

The online learning aspect comes down to accessibility. The North Shore School District said, so far, they’ve distributed over 3,500 computers or iPads and deployed at least 350 mobile hotspots.

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