Coronavirus fears force schools to plan to move online
Moving classes online is one contingency school district leaders are planning for should any potential coronavirus outbreaks begin disrupting life in the U.S.
In Miami-Dade County Public Schools, administrators are preparing 200,000 laptops and tablets to send home so students can work online if an outbreak closes buildings, the Associated Press reported.
“If there is one place where a contagion can actually spread, it could be the schoolhouse,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a Wednesday news conference, according to the Associated Press. “We are ready. We have protocols in place.”
In Colorado, schools must provide 160 days of instruction per year but education officials say they would offer leeway to schools that “experience a prolonged closure,” the Associated Press reported.
Though many districts have plans for the spread of infectious disease, far fewer have prepared for long-term closures or to teach online for extended periods of time, The New York Times reported.
On the one hand, not all students have ready access to computers or broadband internet at home, according to The Times.
Meanwhile, working parents would be forced to adjust to “a vast unplanned experiment in mass home-schooling,” Kevin Carey, vice president for education policy at the New America think tank, told The Times.
In New Jersey, district leaders have begun sending home letters informing parents about prevention and response plans, NJ.com reported.
The Lakewood School District told announced that hand sanitizers and posters reminding students of healthy hygienic practices would be placed throughout buildings, according to NJ.com.
The New Jersey Department of Education said online instruction would be an option should an outbreak occur, NJcom. reported.
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In Northern California, the Davis Joint Unified School District announced that it would excuse all absences due to illness and had already been disinfecting rooms on a daily basis because of flu season, The Sacramento Bee reported.
A teacher in another Sacramento-area district was told to stay home after they reported that their spouse was a first responder at a medical center where a coronavirus patient was being treated. The teacher’s classroom was deep cleaned as an extra precaution even though the district does not believe the teacher was exposed, the Bee reported.
In Utah’s Park City School District, most students have access to district-provided devices to learn online. On the low-tech side, parents could also read, listen to books or practice writing, math and handwriting with their children should schools close, a district spokesperson told the Desert News.
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