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Making the Grade: Jerome School District tackles virtual learning challenges

Posted at 3:55 PM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 17:55:07-04

JEROME, Idaho — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many of us have changed the way we live our lives. For educators and students, going virtual means completely changing the way they teach and learn.

For the Jerome School District, it was a quick transition.

"Right before spring break we had school on Monday, and that was our last day that we saw students," said Superintendent Dale Layne.

Layne says the district has had to tackle several challenges--internet access and devices to name just a few--but the district is doing their best to take on each one.

"Not every student is going to have access to do just strictly online... There are students that, even if we get a device in their hand, do not have internet access," Layne said. "As a district, we've checked out almost 1,000 Chromebooks and distributed those to families."

In order to help with internet access, the district has set up WiFi at each of the buildings. The idea is for students to come to the parking lots and use the WiFi to do schoolwork, but the district admits it's not a perfect solution.

"Because of how rural we are, we have a lot of kids out in the county, so it's very difficult for them to get in to even access that," Layne explained.

The district is still working on finding solutions, but say they're doing everything they can to make sure their students are taken care of. The district has staff dedicated to reaching out to students directly--especially if they notice the students haven't interacted with learning materials. Many of the teachers, like fourth grade teacher LeeAnn Gott, check in on each of their students each day personally.

"We're all working our tails off to find new ways to meet each child's need," Gott said. "Part of what's important is making sure that we can touch their lives, and this makes it a little more difficult but we have tried to find some ways to do that."

The district says they're still working on a plan of what the fall semester will look like, but say they will continue doing their best to support students.