This California school is open, ‘learning as we go.’ Is it a model or a mistake?

China Arkansas, 8, an incoming third-grader at Mount St. Mary's Academy in Grass Valley, Calif., takes an assessment test under the watch of teacher David Pistone. <span class="copyright">(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)</span>
China Arkansas, 8, an incoming third-grader at Mount St. Mary’s Academy in Grass Valley, Calif., takes an assessment test under the watch of teacher David Pistone. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Inside Mount St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic school in this Gold Rush town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, a life-size statue of the Virgin Mary stands sentinel over the check-in table at the front door. Students returning for the fall session stop under her watchful gaze for a modern ritual of pandemic life: temperature check, hand sanitizer, questions on their potential as virus vectors.

Thursday morning, Principal Edee Wood wore a red paisley-printed mask as she wielded a digital thermometer intended to protect the 160 students at her school, one of the few in California attempting in-person classes this fall. At Mount St. Mary’s, life is going back to normal with crisp uniforms, sharp pencils and classes five

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Miami public schools return to online learning. What lessons were learned from spring?

Reopening Miami-Dade public schools began as a game of “ifs.”

If positive cases trend downward for 14 days. If testing for asymptomatic minors becomes widely available and expeditious. If at least 25% of a school’s student body opts to stay home, then the rest can go to the schoolhouse.

But as students, parents and teachers approach the first day of school — now Aug. 31 for Miami-Dade — there is finally more clarity on what school will look like. School will be remote and online until at least Oct. 5.

For at least a dozen districts around the state, including Miami-Dade, even the first day of school became another “if.” Start dates have been pushed back and some districts have conceded that virtual learning will take place for the first few weeks. Miami-Dade pushed its first day of school from Aug. 19 to Aug. 24 and then to Aug. 31

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How Schools Missed a Chance to Fix Remote Learning

The Clinton Hill School in New York, July 22, 2020. (Mark Wickens/The New York Times)
The Clinton Hill School in New York, July 22, 2020. (Mark Wickens/The New York Times)

With some combination of optimism, anxiety and wishful thinking, many educators spent their summers planning, in minute detail, how to safely reopen classrooms. Teachers stocked up on sanitation supplies as superintendents took a crash course in epidemiology and studied supply chain logistics for portable air filters.

But with the pandemic now surging across a wide swath of the country, many of those plans have been shelved, and a different reality has emerged for the nation’s exhausted and stir-crazy families: Millions of American children will spend their fall once again learning in front of laptop screens.

In places where schools haven’t already reopened — in some, to just as quickly close again — educators are spending the little time they have left before the new academic year moving to focus more fully on improving online instruction,

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5 alternative school options parents are weighing as more districts opt for remote learning

CHICAGO — Laura Reber, founder and CEO of Chicago Home Tutors, has been fielding calls from nervous parents around the clock in recent weeks, as uncertainty over fall schooling sent many searching for alternative options.

Reber, whose firm of 100 tutors has served Chicago-area students for eight years, said she understands parents’ frustrations. Her reassurances to them focus on the fact that, while it might not be an ideal year for education, their students — and their peers across the country — will get through it.

“The whole nation is going to be in the same boat,” she said. “Not that that’s a huge comfort, but if you move to a private school or another district, there’s really no guarantee that they’re not going to change their plan.”

With Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing Wednesday that the new school year will begin with remote learning instead of a hybrid plan in

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These online learning tips will help parents prepare for a successful school year, even if it is virtual.

Many of the nation’s largest school districts plan to begin the fall semester online-only. As schools consider reopening, children face a future in which online courses will probably be part of the curriculum. To make the best of this situation, here are some tips to help your child adapt to learning from home.

Studies show that in online learning, parents often take on the role of a teacher. Making school a priority will help keep kids from treating online learning as a vacation. 

Research suggests that some types of parental participation have a greater impact on children’s academic achievement than others. One analysis showed that schoolchildren benefit from discussions about learning and school-related issues with their parents and from joint readings. 

Reduce distractions

A report in 2016 found that students spent about one-fifth of class time on laptops, smartphones and tablets, knowing that doing so could harm their grades. They

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Unhappy with school options, parents team up to form learning pods to educate their kids

South Florida parents, desperate for in-person education for their kids during the COVID-19 pandemic, are teaming up with their neighbors to create 21st-century schoolhouses in their homes and offices, complete with teachers and tutors to supervise.

These parents were disappointed with the virtual offerings from South Florida’s school districts last spring, when COVID-19 abruptly forced school buildings to close, and fear their children will lose important social and academic skills as education remains online. They want to make sure the kids get a more substantive, live learning experience this fall.

The learning pods aren’t cheap; many will cost each family more than $1,000 a month. Educators fear the pods will exacerbate inequalities in the public school system, as parents who can afford them will pay to supplement their children’s online schooling, while those with fewer resources will have to make do with the public school systems’ distance offerings.

The parents

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Rowan University To Start Fall With In-Person, Remote Learning

Rowan University will begin its fall semester with a mix of remote and in-person learning as New Jersey continues to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our faculty have worked to transfer and refine their curricula to provide students a robust academic experience delivered within all public health guidelines,” university officials said this week. “While we had planned for a full return to campus this fall, it is apparent that New Jersey will remain in Stage 2 of its reopening plan for the foreseeable future, so we will begin the fall semester accordingly.”

Students will be able to live in on-campus housing from the start of the semester, with enhanced health and safety measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The university will remain flexible with their deadlines for anyone who would like to live on campus. Students will be permitted to return to on-campus housing at any

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How to improve distance learning for our youngest students

Younger students struggle with distance learning for an obvious reason — they have shorter attention spans. <span class="copyright">(Halfpoint — stock.adobe.com)</span>
Younger students struggle with distance learning for an obvious reason — they have shorter attention spans. (Halfpoint — stock.adobe.com)

Many teachers, students and their families can agree on one thing after experiencing the unexpected hurricane that was distance learning this spring: It must improve — especially in the earliest grades, transitional kindergarten through second grade.

Our youngest students, from ages 4 to 9, need more supervision throughout the day and help with the technology that enables learning. They are developmentally different from their older peers in ways that significantly impact how they best learn. Distance-learning practices must reflect that reality.

As educational researchers, we learned from conversations with teachers, school leaders, parents and early-education experts what strategies were effective for initiating and sustaining student engagement in the spring. Anyone responsible for supporting young students in distance learning could benefit from employing these approaches.

Obviously, distance instruction is not the same

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From child care stipends to flexible schedules, companies aim to help parents juggle remote learning and work again this fall

When the state issued its stay-at-home order in March, Gina LaMonica, 39, a partner with Chicago law firm Perkins Coie, had just returned from a work trip.

Overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic turned her Park Ridge home into an office and a school as she and her husband juggled their careers and the care of their two young daughters. Worlds collided, work shifted to all hours of the day and night, and somehow, they made it to the summer, exhausted and fully employed.

“It was very difficult,” LaMonica said. “Those were long days.”

For working parents like LaMonica, the pending start of the school year, which brings the anxiety of new teachers, schedules and courses under even the best of circumstances, is looming as a major source of stress.

A growing list of companies are pushing office reopenings to 2021 and many school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, are nixing even

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Schools seeking alternative to remote learning move classes outside

DETROIT — With just days to go before the start of the new academic year, schools around the country are rushing to gather materials they never thought they would need: plexiglass dividers, piles of masks and internet hot spots to connect with students remotely.

And then there are schools that have an even more unusual list.

The Detroit Waldorf School in Michigan is buying carriage bolts, berry bushes and 8,000 square feet of cedar wood.

The San Francisco Unified School District has been busy gathering tree stumps.

And the Five Town Community School District in Maine is buying tents, yurts and enough all-weather snowsuits for each of its elementary school students.

These schools and districts are all laying the groundwork to move at least some instruction to outdoor classrooms. They’re making a bet that the lower risk of disease transmission in the open air, and the extra space outside for

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