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How DC teachers are keeping kids learning during school shutdowns

D.C. Public Schools staff are distributing distance learning packets while teachers are on spring break.

WASHINGTON — D.C. Public school leaders are focused on keeping kids learning, while their teachers are taking this first week of the school shut down off, for spring break. 

Most administrators and staff are teleworking, but schools are not empty. A bare-bones staff is at most DCPS buildings to distribute additional school work to parents between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. until Monday, March 23.

The distance-learning plan packets were prepared by DCPS and are meant to add on to what teachers sent home before schools shut down.

RELATED: DC schools closed until April 1 to mitigate COVID-19 spread, 'distance learning' takes place after early spring break

"The most important factor is clear information and sharing that in a cohesive manner as soon as we get it," Anne Beers Elementary Principal Gwendolyn Payton said.

Payton explained her school is using text, email and robocalls to communicate updates to families. 

"We're concerned about everyone and all of their needs," Payton said. "And to the best of our ability as a collective school family, we're trying to meet them."

Payton said after the break, teachers will hold "office hours" with their students and communicate with families through Apps like Skype, Zoom, Class Dojo even Facetime.  

That’s not the case in every jurisdiction.  

RELATED: Here are some museum virtual tours you can take while cooped up at home

In Montgomery County, parents received an email explaining the two-week closure is being treated as an emergency closing, like snow days. That means "teachers are not working and will not be providing new instruction or giving new assignments to students," according to the email.  

The school system has offered online links to several support services and resources including an instructional site for student review. Fairfax County Public Schools are directing parents to the Blackboard app, a password-protected portal where they can access additional school work. 

RELATED: Fairfax Co. teacher creates website for students home during coronavirus outbreak

"I think it’s a good idea that they’re trying to keep the learning at home easier for parents because my child is driving me crazy," parent Chelsea Blango said. "This is really keeping her busy, so I really appreciate it."

RELATED: Here's where students can get free meals while schools are shut down

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