W. MI teachers use Zoom to connect students amid shutdown

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As a result of the statewide school shutdown, many teachers are looking for new ways to connect with their students.

“This keeps us connected,” said English language arts teacher Caroline Strong. 

“We are not a one-to-one school and we are not a heavy tech school,” said principal Michelle Morrow. “So, we are your average school out there that has made it happen.”

St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School in Grand Rapids wasted no time in figuring out how its students would continue learning during the statewide shutdown.

“Instead of kind of hemming and hawing on what we were going to do, I created a schedule that from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. — all of our staff was going to be available online,” said Morrow.

All preschool through 8th grade students are now learning their courses online through the video app Zoom. It’s a way for teachers and students to all be together, just not physically.

“It also allows each of us to see one another and wave. I check in with them to see how they’re doing,” said Strong.

The school checked out Chromebooks to students who didn’t have access to the app at home.

“Being able to go through their calendar time, being able to see their teachers every day allows them a sense of normalcy,” said Morrow.

These two women say during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to look at the bright side of things and realize with a little extra work that anything is possible.

“I think it really shows that people are extremely resilient. If there is a will, there is a way,” said Morrow.

The Michigan Department of Education sent a statement to public schools on Friday, saying in part:

“Existing state law and ensuring equitable education access for all students prompted the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) today to notify local school districts that distance learning strategies in individual schools and districts will not be counted as official student instructional time during the COVID-19 school closure.”

However, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School operates under the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, which sent them the following: 

“The 31 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are not public schools or public charter schools and are not subject to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) memorandum. We follow the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools (MANS) guidelines and diocesan calendar standards rather than MDE requirements.

“Our Superintendent of Catholic Schools has informed our families the instruction which Catholic school students are currently receiving through remote learning will be counted, and Catholic schools in the diocese will continue to deliver instruction. We believe it is in the best interest of our students to continue their Catholic education during this unprecedented time.”

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