Teachers preparing for home-based learning

Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Alyson Erikson, far left, instructs teachers on how to navigate Google classroom. The teachers were given MacBooks to assist with this new, digital learning phase. Photo by Hannah Richardson

By Hannah Richardson, lifestyleeditor@natchitochestimes.com

Although the beginning date of the 2020-21 school year has not been officially decided, Natchitoches Parish School Board faculty and teachers are preparing for the drastic academic changes that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. NPSB Superintendent Grant Eloi recommended the school year begin Aug. 31 instead of Aug. 6, giving everyone more time to prepare. That decision will be voted on during a meeting Friday, July 24.

Recently, teachers have been instructed on how to use Google Classroom during professional development workshops, which will be used to teach students in grades k-12 that have opted into the Home Based Digital Learning program.

Alyson Erikson and Sarah Rachal both instructed the professional developments. Both women are Supervisors of Curriculum and Instruction for the NPSB. Every student in the district is receiving an iPad with a Logitech case, according to the school board. This provides 1-1 on mobile devices and ensures every student has access to digital learning. The school board purchased 385 13-inch MacBook Airs for teachers to utilize for content creation and virtual classroom instruction.

These technology purchases were federally funded under the CARES Act. For more information about CARES, visit https://gov.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/2583.

Teachers are assigned to students, monitoring their progress on Edgenuity, covering areas in grades k-12. If a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered or if numbers drop, students will be allowed to return to a classroom setting in their school, though grades 9-12 will wait until the beginning of the next semester.

At the school board meeting Tuesday, July 14, Eloi said he expected the number of digital learning program students to reach 1,500, making up about one-third of the school population. To learn more about the program, visit https://npsb.la/events/home-based-digital-learning.