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Parents try to navigate K-12 school closure

northwest community schools
Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 18:31:51-04

LANSING, Mich. — With face-to-face learning suspended for the rest of the year, school administrators and parents are now scrambling to come up with remote learning plans.

There are more than 900 school districts across the state and each of them will have to come up with a plan that suits their students including those without reliable access to the internet.

Amanda Force and her children fall under that category. She lives in Vermontville in Eaton County. She has a 1st, 7th, and 10th grader who all learn from a cell phone that only gets service in their car.

"We live out here in the country where we don't have very good service on our phones, so I'm sitting in my car right now so I can get full bars and I don't know what we're going to do about the girls because I'm trying to find stuff for them online and I don't know how that's going to work inside," said Force.

Force says the past few weeks have been stressful and doesn't know what to expect in the future with the new learning plan.

"I have no idea. I'm lost right now," said Force.

Eaton Rapid's Superintendent Bill DeFrance says this is one of the biggest issues with remote learning. He says in his district around 30% of students don't have access to a computer with internet and a printer.

The governor's executive order leaves it up to districts to figure out how to make it work for everyone.

"We're going to build a hybrid network that takes advantage of the online capabilities that we have as well as building in, putting together what you and I would call learning packets," said DeFrance.

He says the governor's decision was ultimately the right one, but it will take time to implement.

"I professionally think the best thing we could do is get everybody healthy and safe and have a nice start in the fall. Where we're not concerned about watching for somebody to cough, or checking everybody's temperature," said DeFrance.

However, even with the appropriate technology, parents like Jeff Pridgeon say the change will be tough. He has a college student, and three first grade triplets at home while he and his wife still work full-time.

"It's new for us. It's not something that we as parents have to do. We rely greatly on our schools and our educators and home is an extension of that," said Pridgeon. "Our children are our life and like I said earlier. I think this is more difficult on them than it is going to be on us as parents. We need to keep everyone safe."

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