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Making the Grade: Minidoka County School District handling "speed bumps" that come with virtual learning

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Posted at 2:53 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 18:30:58-04

RUPERT, Idaho — Most school districts are now several weeks into online learning, and for many, it's caused some headaches.

For the Minidoka County School District, having enough devices for their 4,200 students wasn't a problem--they have 5,000 devices, more than enough for their students. The district says although they have plenty of devices, they're still having their share of speed bumps and technical difficulties.

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"We had a better start because we had the devices for students," said Dr. Kenneth Cox, Superintendent of the district.

"We've answered quite a few phone calls and help desk tickets on apps not working and youtube videos not loading correctly. Trying to help the parents and the students work through that," said Ashley Johnson, Minidoka Elementary Director of Student Achievement.

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Johnson explains another issue has been internet speed, but not to the extend the district was expecting.

As the district has switched over to online learning, they've made some changes to grading policies--especially on the middle and high school level.

"We've sent out guidance making sure that teachers be as flexible as possible with their grading," said Cox. "We've also asked that there be no end of course assessments. It's difficult to proctor those tests, as well as to ensure the students get all of the things that would be on a normal end of course assessment."

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The district says they're not yet sure what the fall semester will look like, but say they plan on implementing some elements of online learning into the new semester.

Regardless, they say they won't be opening schools until it's safe to do so.

"We have a responsibility to be examples in everything that we do--so that's part of what we're doing and that's part of the discussion of opening school up in the fall," said Cox. "We don't know where we're going to be in the number of cases in the county and in the area, but we still need to be examples to our students and families on how to protect each other and them."

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