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"We're just doing the best that we can and making it work." Teachers, students, tutors go digital as California continues to shelter-at-home

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Posted at 5:07 AM, Mar 25, 2020

While most modern classrooms incorporate technology to some degree on a daily basis, for many students and teachers, the week of March 23 marked week two of attending school on a digital platform. As Covid-19 continues to spread and Governor Gavin Newsom's shelter-at-home order remains in effect, learning from teachers inside a classroom has been replaced by staying strictly digital.

Haley Kennedy is a fourth-grade teacher at Del Mar Elementary School in Morro Bay and currently on her second week of virtual teaching. The main tool she's using to connect with her 27 students is through Google Classroom.

"You'll see my message with my morning read aloud, you can see their schedule throughout the day and just links they'll need throughout the day," Kennedy said.

Through this online platform, students can ask questions, submit assignments and even connect with each other, too. Additionally, Kennedy checks in with her students and their parents a couple times a week through Facetime and phone calls.

For Kennedy, her students and thousands across the state, this is far from ordinary.

"We're just doing the best that we can and making it work," Kennedy said.

As far as her curriculum goes, Kennedy says it's similar to what she would teach in a classroom setting, but some of the lessons are slightly more condensed. But, most material is review. For now.

"I feel that they appreciate the amount of work we're giving," Kennedy said. "We're not teaching crazy new concepts, throwing out crazy new technology that's difficult to navigate."

Still, this is new or a lot of parents, which is why some educators, like Christiana Ferro, are offering up virtual tutoring to keep kids on track.

"I kind of went online and created a space where these parents could reach out to me and they can pick time slots and I can work one on one with their students," Ferro said.

Ferro is a literacy support teacher at Branch Elementary School in Arroyo Grande, but since she's found herself out of the classroom too, she wants to be a resource to students and parents while learning is happening from home.

"I think this is a great opportunity where we can work together and make sure the students are getting the work done but it's definitely going to be a work in progress for that," Ferro said.

While student and teachers are missing the social interactions that a normal school day brings. and parents adopt to the temporary setting of having kids home seven days a week, Kennedy emphasizes that routine is key.

"Making sure they still have a normal bed time and they still have the same amount of screen time, obviously you can up a liitle more right now," Kennedy said. "Just getting them in that normal breakfast, lunch, dinner schedule, chores, make the bed, because it's really east to fall out of that. I know I have."