La Crosse School District preparing to enter new phase of online teaching, learning

Governor Tony Evers' 'Safer at Home Order' extends closure of all public and private schools to April 24

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)– Now that the realization is setting in that kids might not get back into the classroom this school year, educators are getting ready for the next phase of virtual teaching with their students. Districts were originally told they would be closed until April 6th, but that has been extended.

“Friday the 13th we found out that we were going to be shut down,” said Jesse Martinez, a teacher at Logan Middle School.

There were just four full days from when teachers were notified to the time the doors closed. That gave educators only a couple of school days to connect with students about what was expected.

“We got to make it really clear to the kids that like, look, you’re not on a break. We’re still going to be doing some learning,” Martinez said.

Martinez teaches 7th-grade science, social studies and Spanish immersion. In all, there are about 60 students in his classes. He’s been using YouTube videos, google classroom and other tools to connect with students.

“I post it out there so they have a verbal expectation, they have the written expectation on google classrooms and then they have the activity that they’re supposed to do,” Martinez said.

For about the last week, the focus has been on brushing up on lessons from the classroom and getting everyone up to speed.

“At least at this point, we’re not to be grading anything. It should be supplemental activities,” Martinez said.

Since all public and private schools will be closed for a longer period of time, the La Crosse School District is looking forward to a new way to keep students on track. The district is getting ready to ramp up its instruction by shifting more to online teaching.

“Some are completely comfortable in this online format. For some, it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve,” said Troy Harcey, associate superintendent of instruction for the La Crosse School District.

Teachers will need to work even more so with other staff to ensure students aren’t overwhelmed with other course work and other responsibilities they may have.

“Our older students in our secondary schools may be caregivers for younger siblings right now,” Harcey said.

For now, the school district is working with principals and other staff to make a plan. They know this will take a lot of coordination to keep everyone on the same page as they lean into a different way of instruction.

“We’ve got to keep our teachers, on a path where it makes sense for them but also for our students out there as well,” Harcey said.

By mid-April, they hope to have this new phase of teaching and learning in full swing.

Because of Governor Tony Ever’s ‘Safer at Home’ order issued this week, schools will remain closed until April 24th. But that date could still change in the future.