As parents adjust to distance learning, school leaders say if necessary, reach out for help

Parents weigh in on how effective distance learning is for children

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Elizabeth Gillen of Denham Springs says she was prepared to be the substitute teacher for her 5-year-old daughter, Lorelei, when schools shut their doors in March.

“I told her and she just had a shocked look on her face that summer was starting early,” Gillen said.

Staying at home has its benefits though.

“We have a lot of PJ days,” Gillen said. “So that helps that I don’t make her get ready for school.”

But summer isn’t here yet. That’s one tiny hurdle Lorelei jumped over. Gillen says she encouraged her daughter that finishing her schoolwork was necessary and assured her she wouldn’t have to work on it all day.

That’s the positive side of all this. Gillen says long school days can be a lot for a toddler.

“Before, she had a whole day of school and then she’d come home and have that work packet also," Gillen said.

This mom of two realizes kids need to interact with others at school. For now, she's adapting.

“You know, you don’t have that child distraction of the other kids and everything like that. I think it’s working," she said.

Lorelei can read a book. That’s a surprise this proud mom couldn’t help but share.

“She knows a lot more words than I thought she did," said Gillen.

While Lorelei is ahead, school districts across the state are trying to make sure others don’t get left behind.

“I understand that we will not engage every student, so that’s why this is a hold harmless policy,” said Warren Drake, superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS).

EBRPSS uses the work packets to enhance grades.

“Their grades can get better, but not worse," Drake said.

Drake says they will soon be transitioning into distance learning summer programs. That’s where students who need extra work to pass a class may earn credit.

Details about the EBRPSS distance education plan can be found on the district’s website. Leaders across the parish are working on a summer program now for kids who can’t do the work.

“The last two months of school are huge. It’s not just LEAP tests. High school students learn industry-based credentials like welding and electrical,” said Chief Academic Officer for Central Community School System Chandler Smith. “Our plan is to develop that summer program in July where we can help kids meet those goals and those are individually set."

More details about the Central Community School System distance learning plan can be found here.

School leaders say if you feel like your child is struggling to learn right now, just reach out to their teacher for help.

Drake says he highly encourages students to use the computer as well.

“Get comfortable with what they’re doing. I think school is going to look different in the fall," he said.

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