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Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC

home : news : education July 4, 2020

3/28/2020 12:15:00 PM
Gaston Schools Transitions To Online Teaching & Learning

Todd Hagans
Chief Communications Officer

GASTONIA - With schools closed until at least May 15 because of concerns related to the coronavirus, Gaston County Schools is shifting its instructional/academic focus from the classroom to the living room.

After Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order on March 14 to close all public schools in North Carolina, Gaston County Schools implemented “Gaston At Home,” a remote learning program for students. The first phase of “Gaston At Home” has been in place for two weeks, and the second phase begins the week of March 30.

The first phase was designed to serve students/families from March 16-27, which coincided with the Governor’s original executive order that closed schools for at least two weeks.

1 - Jackie Dameron Farm Bureau

Phase one involved the distribution of supplemental materials or “packets” that students could complete while at home. Students/parents were given the option to pick up a packet from school or download the materials from the Gaston County Schools website. Materials were provided for all grade levels in various subject areas:

  • Pre-kindergarten: arts, science, social studies, math, and literacy
  • Elementary school (K-5): math, reading, and fifth grade science
  • Middle school (6-8): sixth grade reading and math; seventh grade English/language arts and math; and eighth grade English/language arts, math, Math I (a high school course), and science
  • High school (9-12): English, math, science (biology), social studies/history, and occupational learning

The materials served as supplemental learning by providing a review of information and topics already covered this school year.

Now that school closures have been extended until May 15, much energy has been put into developing the second phase of “Gaston At Home.” This phase begins on March 30, and it concentrates on providing teaching and learning in a virtual format.

Teachers have created lessons and activities for students that will be delivered through a variety of online platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom video conferencing, ClassDojo, Remind, and Facebook. Additionally, they have spent time preparing to teach and engage students in an online environment by becoming familiar with virtual learning management systems and video conferencing software. Teachers will provide an orientation for students about how to use the various online platforms.

Further, teachers have been reaching out to students to check on them, provide information, and find out who has internet service and devices at home to use for virtual learning.

Connectivity is a challenge for some families. For students who do not have a device at home, the school district is working to provide a computer to them. Further, the district is trying to secure hotspots that can be distributed to students who do not have internet service. In the meantime, the district will provide printed materials to students who do not have connectivity at home.

Spectrum has developed a program to provide broadband and WiFi access for 60 days to households with K-12 students that do not already have a Spectrum subscription. For more information about the service, parents should call 1-844-488-8395.

While it is important for students to stay engaged in learning through the “Gaston At Home” program, there are other ways to provide a learning environment at home. Students are encouraged to read books and other printed materials, use online educational resources, watch educational television programming, etc. Schools can provide information to students/parents about how to access recommended online materials such as eBooks, periodicals, videos, etc.

As parents take on the task of overseeing learning at home, it is important for them to set a schedule for their child and designate a particular learning space. Students are encouraged to work in increments of 20 to 40 minutes, and developing an at-home school routine is suggested.

The purpose of the remote work is to keep some form of teaching and learning in place as students are away from the traditional classroom because of the coronavirus. Through the lessons, assignments, and activities, teachers are able to involve students in academics, provide encouragement and feedback to them, and help them grow as much as possible.

Students/parents should stay in contact with their school for information and updates about remote learning. Principals and teachers will communicate with students/parents and provide information on a regular basis. If students or parents have questions or concerns, they should contact their teacher or the school principal.

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