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A New Reality of Remote Learning

Schools across the country including Monroe Township High School have taken advantage of technology to continue learning for students despite the coronavirus pandemic.

As the COV-19 pandemic continues to surge through the country, MTHS has taken precautions to ensure the health and safety of their students and faculty. Surfaces were constantly being wiped down and the importance of proper hand washing was enforced through informational posters around the school. The usage of shared hall passes was also terminated and individual passes were being written out for every student who needed to leave the classroom. 

However, as the spread of the virus was turning severe in New Jersey, a Board of Education meeting was set for Friday, March 13th, 2020. This day was shortened to a half day for students, but staff stayed in the building to create lesson plans in the event that the school would need to close given the current circumstances. News quickly spread that the school was transitioning to online learning and superintendent, Dr. Dori Alvich, gave a statement revealing a general update about the situation.

“As I am sure you have already heard, Governor Murphy has now closed all schools as of Wednesday, March 18. Therefore, all of our schools are closed including essential personnel until further notice. Remote learning will begin for all students and staff on Wednesday, March 18.” 

This statement was released on March 14th, 2020, only a day after students and staffs last physical day of school for the time being. While many were quick to celebrate not having to physically attend school, there were still many unknowns regarding the situation and challenges which would surface in the days ahead. Without a doubt, students and faculty were now entering uncharted territory as the school has never had to navigate through a situation like this, let alone try to run school remotely. 

Monday, March 16th, and Tuesday, March 17th, were used as “snow days” in order to let teachers formulate lesson plans and explore the technological options they would have for teaching digitally. Most teachers have been using platforms such as Schoology and Google Classroom for instruction. By using these platforms, teachers are able to post materials for the class and have a line of communication going between themselves and students. The Remind app is also being used by some so teachers can send messages to students about upcoming deadlines and general reminders regarding their course. Google Meets and conferences via Schoology have been used to virtually meet with students. Through this, teachers are able to give lectures, write notes, privately chat with students, and answer questions. 

Conferences through Schoology allow users to ask questions through the “Public Chat” feature towards the left of the screen and see notes written by the instructor on the right. 

Although the first couple of days of online learning were slightly chaotic with glitching conferences and students not being able to properly log on to certain apps, the “school” still ran on the regular 6.5 hour schedule, starting from 7:27 am to 2:00 pm. 

It was later announced that starting on Monday, March 23rd, the days of online learning would be shortened to just 4 hours! With the new schedule, each block would only last 1 hour instead of 1.5 hours and the start of the school day would also be delayed by a half hour. Block 1 would be held from 8:00 am-9:00 am, Block 2 would be held from 9:00 am-10:00 am, Block 3 would be held from 10:00 am-11:00 am, and Block 4 would be held from 11:00 am until the day’s dismissal at 12:00 pm. 

As safety remains the top priority of the school, it is likely that remote learning will continue for an extended period of time and while students are enjoying the later start to the day, it is safe to say that everyone is missing the social interaction!

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