MILFORD — For the Milford School District, the transition to remote learning is an experience very much akin to the start of a new school year, with educators working to build an understanding of learning styles and develop expectations for students.
Since Gov. Chris Sununu extended remote learning statewide through the end of April, collaboration among the entire Milford School District community has proven key to smoothing the transition for students.
Milford educators have been utilizing technology such as Google Classroom as well as paper and pencil activities to support remote learning since the district closed its facilities in response to the novel coronavirus in March. Staff have additionally used phone calls, email and video chat technology to keep in touch with students and their families.
Photos and videos of students of all ages are being regularly shared on the district’s Twitter page, showing them doing activities like reading, writing, math and cooking, to give community members a behind-the-scenes look into remote learning.
Students are given the flexibility to complete their assignments at their own pace in order to ease the transition into the new learning routine.Teachers are available during the regular school day hours in order to virtually meet with and help students complete their assignments.
“Each child has individual learning styles, and working remotely could be difficult for some students and come more naturally for others,” Milford Middle School Principal Anthony DeMarco said. “We’ve been working with families during this time to provide them with the tools needed to help their students learn best and reminding them that while keeping to a schedule is a good idea, one that is not flexible is not.”
Outside of learning, faculty and staff are working to maintain a sense of school spirit with students and their families.
School administrators are continuing to provide daily announcements, including daily riddles for the elementary school students, in order to foster that spirit. Staff members like school nurses and guidance counselors are checking in with some families to help with the transition. A team at the Milford High School is putting together a website meant to inspire school spirit for those students as well.
“It is a remote beehive of activity,” Milford High School Principal Chali Davis said. “Our success lies in cooperative, generous spirit shown by all. While the teachers are on the forefront, providing virtual lessons as well as lesson packets for those without internet, an army of workers are behind them, supporting their work.”
Parents who came to pick up paper assignments for students at both elementary school were greeted by volunteers dressed in tropical shirts and leis.
“This was a fun, unique way to spread some joy among students and their families as they came to pick up their assignments,” Jacques Memorial School Principal Tim O’Connell. “People really got a kick out of it. Throughout all of this, it’s been a lot of fun connecting with my students and families in new ways.”
Teachers have also been hosting virtual meetings for many of the district’s clubs, as well as sing-a-longs, read alouds and virtual music lessons on Google Hangouts.
“Teachers have quickly learned how to utilize new tools to stay in touch with their teams, colleagues, families, and students,” said Heron Pond Principal Chris Saunders. “As an administrator I could not be more proud of the work we have done and hope we can continue to navigate this and learn as we go how to do things better and improve on the great things we have already done.”
“Creating this remote learning plan was a collaborative process among staff, faculty, students and families in order to ensure the success of remote learning during this unique time,” Superintendent Huizenga said. “I’m incredibly proud of the work everyone did to create this plan, and all the creativity that went into it, on short notice.
Parents are also being encouraged to help students work on and develop other skill sets by going outside to play, coloring and drawing, playing an instrument, cleaning the house, cooking a meal and doing the laundry.
Going forward, more online learning opportunities will be created, especially for students in the lower grades. Right now, “Blizzard Bags” consisting of paper materials and lessons are being utilized by younger students, and completed work is being dropped off every few weeks for their teachers to review.
“We are continuing to monitor how students are learning under this new system and will make changes to best facilitate their success as the weeks go on,” Superintendent Huizenga said. “We are grateful for everyone’s cooperation and for the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received so far.”
Families are asked to contact their student’s teacher directly with any questions or concerns during the next few weeks.
The district also wishes to provide the following tips for parents and guardians to promote social emotional well-being:
- Limit the amount of TV news that children see/hear.
- Talk to children about what is going on in age appropriate ways. For tips from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on talking to children about this pandemic, click here.
- Seek out enriching activities for students to engage in, when they are not engaged in remote learning. Examples of such activities include arts and crafts projects, drawing or painting, reading, taking a walk or yoga.
- If you have questions or concerns, contact your child’s teacher or counselor.
- Know that children may be upset about the situation surrounding this pandemic and acknowledge their feelings.
- For more information on managing stress and anxiety during this pandemic, visit the CDC’s website here.
If you have COVID-19 specific questions, the State of New Hampshire has established a call center to assist you, which can be reached by calling 211 or 1-866-444-4211.