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How Colorado schools are preparing for online instead of in-person learning

Districts shut down buildings across Colorado to prevent the spread of COVID-19

EDGEWATER, Colo. — In Jefferson County and Boulder Valley schools, teachers like Rachel Hafer are preparing their students to learn from their homes instead of their classrooms.

"My first thought was immediately like that was going to be more of a challenge for our kids than maybe at some other schools," Hafer said.

She teaches English at Jefferson Junior/Senior High School in Edgewater where a vast majority of students are considered low income. Senior Cameron Johnson said he worries about access.

"Already positive that not everybody here can get to the internet while they're at home," Johnson said. "So, it's like how can we make it required?"

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Hafer says she and other teachers are trying to get families to sign up for Internet Essentials with Comcast. Comcast announced Friday that it will be offering two-months of free internet to new families signing up.

Another senior, Angelica Castillo, worries about actually learning online versus with a teacher in the classroom.

"Being on a computer just like throws me off a lot," Castillo said. "I don't know. I struggle a lot being on a computer for such a long time."

Hafer says these concerns already exist in the classroom.

"Even in person, you're always worried about if they're understanding the content or your checking with them to make sure you're okay with what they're working on," Hafer said. "I don't think it's any different."

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Hafer's students have to check for assignments every day and do the work to be considered "present" in class. She plans to assign an essay that requires research which is something students can do from home.

"I was in Google Classroom loading in all the supplies or materials they would need," Hafer said.

Perhaps the bigger concern with shutting down schools has nothing do with computers.

"What bothers me is if our families are starving literally not being able to find sources for food," Rhiannon Wenning, community schools site coordinator, said.

Wenning's job is to support students in and out of the classroom. Friday afternoon, she was preparing boxes and bags of food for students to take home while the building is closed.

"Ninety percent of our student population is on 'Free and Reduced Lunch' so sometimes this is the only meals they get in a day," Wenning said.

Castillo is concerned about her classmates.

"I am worried because I've been there before," Castillo said.

These are challenges imposed on kids and families by the spread of the coronavirus. Most schools are planning to be shut down for at least the next two weeks.

"It's the unknown, right?" Hafer said. "That's what's scaring kids, too, I think. If we knew there was a stop date for sure we knew we'd be back, we'd be fine."


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