Online classes, packets part of new normal for students
Rib Lake School Board gets update on efforts to continue education during shutdown
The Rib Lake School Board continues to take measures towards continued support of their students amidst the shutdown.
Administration is adamant about continuing support of their students needs, and will renew their education in a largely online matter.
They discussed how teachers will provide lesson plans and learning activities to students while they are stuck at home, opting for a combined digital and physical approach.
“We sent home binders with packets to meet the needs of our kids who can’t have technology, but also to just to meet the needs of everybody,” said fifth grade teacher Barb Anderson.
“We were having difficulty connecting with kids, especially in large groups,” she said. “We have the ability to use Google hang out, but you can only have up to 10 people. So we rolled Zoom out.”
Zoom is an online conferencing service that allows up to 100 people to chat with each other at once, more than ample for the size of Rib Lake’s classes.
“A lot of the online opportunities that normally would charge, they’re now offering their services for free for the rest of the year,” Anderson said. “Teachers have been sharing that with parents to get them signed up with those services.”
Although the transition to media-tech teaching has been relatively smooth, Anderson expressed trepidation over server traffic with the sudden influx of online students.
“I just hope the technology part of it can withstand the amount of traffic that’s going to be coming through there with the entire nation doing e-learning,” she said. “That’s one of my biggest concerns.”
There was no talk of internet availability, or how the school plans to deal with the poor connection that many families have.
The district is getting some additional help on the technology side of things from a substitute teacher that is filling in for a teacher who’s on maternity leave.
The substitute was a telepresence speech teacher for many years, and is walking them through the process of setting the e-school up, and making sure the school stays compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Students and teachers alike are still adapting to the peculiar situation.
“They’re just trying to find what their new ‘normal’ looks like,” said principal Kirsten Budimlija, in reference to a parent who had said the same about her children now that they are stuck inside. “You used to be able to stand in the hall and talk to students as they were walking by. Now, we can’t do that. We still have to maintain those relationships; pick up a phone and call.”
To facilitate the online lessons, students are permitted to bring their school-issued laptops home with them for the duration of the closure.
District administrator Rick Cardey acknowledged the school may need to purchase replacements if students damage their laptops, but said it’s just one more slight speed bump in the grand scheme of things and they’ll take it in stride.
The school will also supply students with lunches during the shutdown, available to any who may need it.
“We are going to have hot meals,” said Cardey. “We were brainstorming and challenging each other, we weren’t going to just serve bologna sandwiches one day and PB& J the next.”
The board said that, at the time, they had 45 kids signed up for the meal program, with more expected to join soon.
“The bus drivers are still being paid, so we were told we could use them as couriers for the meals,” Cardey said, explaining how the school plans on disseminating the lunches.
He also mentioned that many from the community stepped up to help, offering their individual services to the school.
“People are concerned with the community and where we are and what we are doing,” he said, adding that the custodial staff have been doing great, and that the schools had been completely deep-cleaned as a precaution.
Cardey said the entire administration had been in a “get it done” mode for the past week, and the entire staff came together and pitched in.
“They’ve done a wonderful job,” he said. “I’m proud of everybody.”
Throughout the course of school closure, administration will be adjusting their plans according to feed back.
“We want to check how it’s going with them... We’re going to reach out to [students] and say, ‘How are we doing? What would you change? What could I help people learn from? But, most of all, how are you doing?’,” said Cardey.
Overall the board stayed positive in the face of the challenges presented to them, and are of the mind-set that everything will turn out fine.
“Out of this can come some very good learning experiences for all, because usually out of something bad comes something good. And I do believe we will have good things come,” said Cardey. “Even though this is far from ideal and I’m worried for everyone. I truly believe we’ll get through this, and be better for it.”
“E ven though this is far from ideal and I’m worried for everyone. I truly believe we’ll get through this, and be better
—Rick Cardey, Rib Lake district administrator
“I just hope the technology part of it can withstand the amount of traffic that’s going to be coming through there with the entire nation doing
—Rib Lake teacher Barb Anderson