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Salem students, teachers take to online lessons

SALEM — Salem City Schools Superintendent Sean Kirkland said the transition to distance learning and teaching for students and staff at the 7-12 grade levels has been fairly easy.

Even the students in grades 5 and 6 are working online extensively.

“Where we are having some issues is pre-K through fourth grade, but we’re working through those issues as we come across them,” he said.

Kirkland said the issues deal with the technology and some of the web-based programs they’re using with the younger grades.

For the most part, though, he said this new way of schooling is “going well.”

“Technology is allowing for our staff to be very creative,” Kirkland said.

He specifically mentioned Zoom, a video conferencing tool the staff is finding particularly useful. The Zoom tool is allowing teachers to communicate with kids and visually see them.

Teachers are learning more about their students because they’re seeing them in their home environment and interacting with them.

For band and art students, teachers can visually see them and hear them and help them with what they’re working on.

Kirkland said it warms the heart to see some of the interactions.

St. Paul School Principal David Pancurak said he thinks the younger kids are handling the distance learning almost better than the older kids. They work with the

Seesaw program every day while in school and they know what to do. Kids get to see each other and that helps, even if it isn’t in person.

“For not being online teachers, it feels like we’re wearing a blindfold at times, but with the feedback from parents, we’re cleaning up the process,” he said. “The education has not stopped.”

Teachers have office hours in the evening to talk with parents and Pancurak meets with the teachers via Zoom, which is also being used for instruction with students.

“When they left school that Friday, there was a plan in place and that’s what has kept instruction going,” he said.

The evening sessions last just 15 minutes four nights a week so parents can ask questions “so we’re not losing touch with anybody,” he said.

They’re also able to find out if families need something that doesn’t have anything to do with school that the school can provide. Kids are even asking if they can say the “Our Father” or “Hail Mary” to close out the day.

“We’re ending with prayer and that’s what’s needed right now,” Pancurak said.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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