Schools shuttered by coronavirus; students forced to seek alternatives to keep from falling behind

How to keep the kids busy at home while schools are closed

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Lenora Neyland and her sister, Millie Myers, spend their days isolated from friends inside their parents’ Baton Rouge home.

“I’m working on science right now,” Lenora, a 7th grader at Glasgow Middle School, said.

Lenora spends at least four hours per day sitting at her family’s dining room table working on a variety of school subjects. Right now, she’s studying the life cycle of molecules.

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Her sister sits a few feet away from her at the other end of the table reading a book about gorillas. Millie is a 2nd grader at Westdale Heights Academic Magnet. She would much rather be at school.

Lenora Neyland and Millie Myers spend four to five hours per day making up for lost schoolwork. They are free to go outside, but are socially isolated from their friends as their parents put an emphasis on social distancing.
Lenora Neyland and Millie Myers spend four to five hours per day making up for lost schoolwork. They are free to go outside, but are socially isolated from their friends as their parents put an emphasis on social distancing. (Source: WAFB)

“It’s sad because I don’t get to see my friends, and then it won’t be as educational for me, so I won’t be as good at college,” Millie said.

Sharla Meyers, the girls’ mother, has resorted to this form of home schooling after Governor John Bel Edwards ordered all schools in Louisiana shuttered to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have an agreement where you do one hour of class time, one hour of fun time,” Myers said. “So class time could be IXL, Google Classroom on the computer, it could be doing work on paper, math, could be reading time. Fun time could be baking a cake.”

Myers is a stay at home mom. She says it has been nice to have her daughters home, but adjusting to the challenges of home schooling has not been the easiest for her or her girls.

“I think the biggest problem for them is the social isolation, not being able to have play dates,” she said. “We’re blessed to have a big yard, but it’s not as much fun when it’s just two siblings who sometimes get along and sometimes don’t and they can’t have their friends over.”

As students across the state move to this form of schooling for the remainder of the school year, teachers and school districts are trying to keep their pupils from falling behind.

Erin Howard, the principal at Glasgow Middle, says while the classrooms in her school now sit empty, she has been feverishly sending out links to educational resources and online classrooms to parents.

The hallways of Glasgow are quiet. Principal Erin Howard says it almost feels like summer break, but the school projects on the walls remind her there were still several months left in the year.
The hallways of Glasgow are quiet. Principal Erin Howard says it almost feels like summer break, but the school projects on the walls remind her there were still several months left in the year. (Source: WAFB)

"We've been posting resources left and right to our Facebook page," Howard said. "Glasgow Middle will have a separate tag right now of additional resources for our students."

Outside the door to main office, Howard has even put a box of fliers with links to online learning resources.

Her school is not mandating students take part in this though. Technically, students could get a head start on their summer vacation, however, she hopes parents will take advantage of these so there’s not as much catching up to do when school resumes.

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“It’s enrichment activity,” she said. “It is something to keep their minds busy, to keep them off all the things that are going on right now, to keep them centered and stay focused on what needs to happen.”

For students who do not have internet access at home, the East Baton Rouge Public School System (EBRPSS) is offering paper worksheets and reading materials. Louisiana Public Broadcasting is also airing educational programs to help bridge the gap between the classroom.

Click here for resources from EBRPSS.

Even with all these resources, Howard is worried it will not be enough.

“They’re probably going to fall a little behind, but we’re going to be right here when they come back to us to fill those gaps,” she said.

For Lenora and Millie, this is their future though, and until students get the all clear to head back to school, they will be stuck learning from home.

"Just keep trying guys," Howard said. "That's all we can do."

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