Educators prep to teach remotely
March 25, 2020
Most local educators aren’t taking the chance that the coronavirus shutdown will end by April 6. They’re preparing to teach remotely.
From Portales to Texico, teachers are beginning to arrange lesson plans via online teaching platforms, putting together work packets or even loading what students need onto flash drives and preparing to pass out tablets or computers.
“We are all making internal backup plans right now if we’re directed to go online, but all the schools are really in the same boat, “ Dora Superintendent Brandon Hays said. “We’re waiting further guidance from the Public Education Department (PED) since they’ve closed all schools until at least April 6.”
Perhaps the largest hurdle for the school districts is the uncertainty of when the shutdown may finally end. While it’s almost certain it will continue past April 6, there’s a lot that might go into long-term planning for the school year.
Floyd Superintendent Damon Terry said there’s little more he can do but hold steady until he gets word from the governor or the PED on how to proceed.
Hays added that every district is doing its best to make as many resources available as possible to students, whether that be lunch or optional work.
But if the shutdown persists, schools might not have many options other than to make that optional work mandatory.
“We’re basically going to be over nine weeks behind when we start school next year,” Portales Superintendent Johnnie Cain said. “We just can’t do that. We’ve got kids who can’t lose these nine weeks because they won’t be able to start things they need next year. An algebra 1 student can’t miss those weeks and still be able to start algebra 2 next year.”
Some students will still be able to work during the shutdown if they’ve been involved in dual enrollment classes with colleges, but rolling out classes for the whole student body would be more difficult to arrange.
Most districts are confident they can provide classes online, but many are concerned that some of their rural students won’t have internet access or home computers to work with. Some schools are arranging physical work packets or lending out electronics and flash drives with the work preloaded, but are still figuring out how to identify which students will need them.
Cain said whether or not school is reinstated on April 6, Portales will have lessons ready either for in-person or remote use. Texico, Floyd, Elida, Dora and Melrose all said they won’t have any concrete information until they learn more from the PED, but are working behind the scenes to have remote work plans ready just in case.
Messages to Clovis school officials were not immediately returned early this week.
Nancy Martira, Director of Communications for the PED, said the shutdown will likely continue past the initial April 6 date, but was unsure just how long it could go.
Martira added that while there is a lot to consider at local, state and federal levels, the PED plans to make an announcement by Friday to get the ball rolling. She said the PED is considering everything from online classes, physical packet distribution alongside lunches and even arranging public broadcasts across the state.
Texico Superintendent Robert Brown said all parents and students should be on alert for any notifications from the school’s online learning platforms for further information and said that would be good practice for anyone during the shutdown.