Districts prepare for second semester with lessons learned from remote education

Back To School

DENVER (KDVR) — Several districts in the state are welcoming kids back in the classroom this week with the start of the second semester

FOX31 spoke to parents, students and educators about lessons learned from the fall, hoping it will help ahead.

With friends and classmates just returning from holiday travels, parent Lori Reid tells FOX31 she doesn’t want to rush bringing her daughter back just yet.

“Today we just changed it actually, she was going to go back two days a week but I think we should give it that two-week quarantine time,” Reid said.

In Poudre Valley, Kelly Holdridge’s elementary school boys will have district-mandated first two weeks learning from home, then they’ll go back to the classrooms five days a week starting Jan. 19.

“I know my kids need it and I know my kids are excited and it’s fantastic,” Holdridge said.

“The academics part was tough for my second grader but the mental health aspect was tough for my fourth grader, so I was seeing it from both sides. Hopefully, that’s going to change now and everything looks up.”

The president of the Colorado Education Association Amie Baca-Oehlert says teachers are paying close attention to the mental health of their students.

“By monitoring the stress level of our students and dialing things back when they are overwhelmed,” Baca-Oehlert said. “If you are not safe emotionally, mentally you can’t learn so our teachers are good about prioritizing that so they can get their academic needs met.”

Parent Sarah Erickson told FOX31 she noticed a big improvement when her daughter Annika’s teachers prioritized virtual group interaction among students.

“I think the teachers have been pretty creative with doing short things, then giving kids time in smaller Zoom groups to actually interact with each other because that’s what they are missing out on the most,” Erickson said.

“Sometimes it’s just have a few minutes chat, sometimes it’s this is a lesson we’re going to talk about so we split into smaller groups and you can talk bout that lesson,” Annika said. 

Annika is also excited she is going to be able to do a Zoom play this semester after not having any after school activity options in the fall.

“I know many districts are doing some really innovative things with technology so that students who are at home remote learning are actually having simultaneous learning with those in the classroom through the use of technology,” Baca-Oehlert said.

Holdrige and other parents say they hope each lesson learned by the districts help students catch up on their curriculum.

“I know a lot of teachers had to minimize or cut out some content because there just wasn’t time for it so i’m hoping if they are able to get full time that maybe they can somehow work it back in and make sure it gets taught,” Holdridge said. 

“So far, there have not been changes to the curriculum to the standards but we do know educators are making it happen,” Baca-Oehlert said.

Baca-Oehlert tells FOX31 substitute teacher shortages were a major issue last semester that can also cause a school or district to shut down. She says districts are currently making creative attempts to enlist more substitute teachers this semester.

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