by Cori Hilsgen
Kennedy Community School principal Anna Willhite said one of the hardest transitions for her and other Kennedy employees, during the Covid-19 pandemic and distance learning, has been the loss of social interactions and connections with Kennedy students.
“Although we have been able to still find creative ways to connect via different platforms, it still isn’t the same as connecting face-to-face and seeing the smiling faces of our students,” Willhite said. ”We are blessed at Kennedy to have amazing educators that are working tirelessly to help remove barriers and support the needs of our students and families to make this transition to distance learning as easy as possible.”
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gov. Tim Walz announced on March 15 that schools would begin distance learning on March 30 and this has now been extended for the rest of the school year.
Many area schools, like Kennedy, have worked hard and excelled at implementing distance learning options for students. With more than 70 licensed staff working with about 840 Kennedy students, the transitions to distance learning has created some new challenges with technology.
Kennedy teachers are using the Seesaw platform with students in preschool to fifth grade and are using Schoology for sixth- through eighth-grade students for delivering instruction.
Willhite said students should be spending about two hours each day on distance learning. Much of the delivery of their lessons is presented through the digital platform, but then there are other activities that students are being asked to focus on as well.
“We have incredible students, staff and families in our Kennedy community,” she said. “Although this isn’t ideal and it is challenging at times, we are all uniting and working together and making distance learning work the best we can.”
Many nonlicensed staff are also supporting students and their families with essential worker childcare and food distribution.
Willhite said Kennedy staff are working with individual students and families to make sure the needs of all students are being met.
“We know everyone’s new normal looks very different and we are working to make sure we can provide as much learning, growth and support each of our students and families need during this time to be successful,” she said.
“We know this is new learning for all of us and I want to ensure we continue to have supports in place to help everyone be as successful as possible,” she said. “As a principal and parent, I know this is challenging to navigate all that is new right now, but I remain hopeful through our collaborative partnership students will continue to grow and be successful; it just looks a little different right now.”
For more information about the St. Cloud school district distance learning, visit the isd742.org website.
The link also offers information for special education, social-emotional support, multilingual education, support for families, parent technical support, access to devices, internet access, and family and student checklists.
Author: Cori Hilsgen
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people’s stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.