New Ways of Learning Sparked by Safer-at-Home Order

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Isabell Kopf

The screen of a school-issued Chromebook shows a student’s view of Mr. Tim Trace’s AP Literature and Composition course. The class began meeting online right away after the school buildings closed so that students could resume preparing for their AP exam.

Karin Juhl

It’s crazy to think that just a month ago going to school every day was normal. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is demanding that teachers find new and innovative ways to continue teaching — without anyone allowed to leave home.

Governor Tony Evers put the safer-at-home order into effect on March 25, prohibiting all non-essential travel and closing all non-essential businesses, including all public and private schools. This order will stay until April 24, but can be extended given how the situation progresses.

From the school closure on March 17, through last Friday, Chilton School District students were given virtual enrichment activities to work on. These activities were not graded, but were to help students get used to using available online tools. Beginning April 6, students were given classwork to complete for a grade and will continue until school resumes as normal.

“I think that online learning will take some time to get used to, but in the long run, I think that it will be worth it,” freshman Alexis Schwobe said. “I think that it will make it easier on us when we do go back to school.”

Having to implement online learning so quickly has been a challenge for the staff. Students have used many online resources at school in the past, but now teachers are having to think of new ways to complete activities that are usually done in the classroom.

“Our staff has had to learn how to really use online learning. There are math teachers trying to learn how to give assessments, science teachers trying to learn how to do labs and tech-ed teachers trying to figure out how to do experiences in the shop,” CHS principal Mr. Shawn Rude said.

Many classes, such as tech-ed classes, art classes and music classes, are finding it especially difficult to adjust because so much of these courses’ curriculum is hands-on. Art teacher Mrs. Schmitz said, “I am having to modify my typical lesson plans that involve special materials to projects that utilize items that I think kids may have at home.”

According to Mr. Rude, students can expect to spend between two and three hours on schoolwork every day. They will spend about thirty to forty-five minutes per class, and teachers will have videos for students to watch and online activities for them complete. At some points, teachers might request that students participate in “live” learning events through programs such as Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet.

If students are having any problems, the school has said they should email their teachers.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of communication,” Mr. Rude said. “If you can’t do something because of circumstances beyond your control, our staff will work with everybody as much as we can to make things available.”

At the moment, students and teachers will be back at school on April 27, but with the changing situation, it’s hard to say if school will resume that soon.

“I am hopeful that we will come back to school at some point to finish the year,” Mr. Rude said. “But if we can’t, I think that we have a system set up that will allow us to make it to the end of the year if we have to.”

COVID-19 is also affecting AP testing and spring standardized testing. The AP tests have been switched to an online format, and students in AP classes have been given information on how the tests will be run. Due to the waiver given by the state, the ACT Aspire and the Forward Exam usually given in the spring will not take place.

Prom has also been postponed because of the pandemic. Mr. Rude said the staff will try as hard as they can to have prom, but at this point, it is hard to say if that will be possible.

As of April 6, graduation will be taking place as scheduled on June 7.