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When schools closed last month, the first of a few device checkout opportunities were held to prepare for possible e-learning. A student, above, is pictured picking up a Chromebook from Bob Jones at that time. Between this opportunity and several others since then, the school district has distributed over 2,500 Chromebooks.

Students in Madison begin e-learning today; school district prepared says Terrell

MADISON – Students in Madison City Schools begin their online classes today, ushering a new reality in the face of a crippling COVID-19 outbreak. Over the past couple of weeks, MCS leaders have been finalizing a plan in response to Gov. Kay Ivey’s order for public K-12 schools to finish the school year through distance learning.

Since schools closed last month, teachers and principals have stayed connected to their students in some very creative ways through a variety of social media platforms. Now they transition to e-learning using Google Classroom to finish out the school year.

“We are excited to begin e-learning tomorrow with your children. Administrators and teachers have been finalizing plans for this transition and are ready to begin virtual learning,” MCS interim superintendent Eric Terrell said in a message to parents Wednesday evening.

“We embark on a new adventure in education. Some may be excited and others nervous. These are the same feelings we experience at the beginning of each school year,” he said. “Although we will not meet face to face, our teachers are excited to start interacting with their students through this different format.”

To prepare students for virtual learning, Terrell said school district employees have distributed over 2,500 Chromebooks since school closed, with over 1,500 of those devices being delivered to student homes this week. “We delivered 500 portable WiFi hotspots, with 300 of those being delivered in the last two days,” he added.

Terrell said the school district has decided not to issue regular graded assignments for e-learning. “We do not want to put additional strain on families during this already very stressful time,” he said. “The purpose of e-learning in this interim is to close gaps and strengthen the foundation as students work toward mastery of critical skills that are needed to move on to the next grade level, course, endeavor.”

There are some exceptions Terrell explained. “The exception is for credit bearing courses taken for high school credit at either the high school level or the middle school level.”

The school district’s Academic Guide (https://bit.ly/39TfrC0) was sent out last week in a messenger along with a FAQ (https://bit.ly/2VrkS6f) that school officials are updating regularly.

Behavior specialists, school psychologists, social workers and school counselors will be available to work with the students through the school district’s The Enrichment Center. “It will continue to provide mental health services through a HIPAA compliant platform called Doxy.me,” Terrell said.  Parents can reach out to their child’s counselor for more information.

Terrell also expressed his thanks to school district employees and community members who have worked to ensure students’ needs are met while being prepared for e-learning. “We ask that you be patient as we navigate these unconventional times,” he added. “I assure you we are trying our very best to provide opportunities for students while also recognizing the stressful times that are impacting all families.”

Read related story: MCS starts delivering meals to families using school buses

 

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