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Kansas educators plan for online learning environment

Posted at 10:44 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 09:20:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For one Shawnee Mission School District teacher, the “unknown is now known.”

That’s how Linda Sieck, SMSD Spanish teacher and president of the National Education Association of Shawnee Mission, said she felt after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s order that Kansas schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

After the uncertainty of whether in-person classes would resume after Spring Break, teachers like Sieck said they are grateful to at least have a direction each district can plan for – but that doesn’t change the feeling of knowing that in-person classes will not happen for the rest of the academic year.

"You know, I can't even process that feeling right now, it just seems surreal,” Sieck said. "It seems very abrupt, but I do think it is in the best interest of those kids to right now be home and be safe."

Sieck said that she has yet to have her “head wrapped” around what day-to-day education will look like, especially for foreign language teachers.

David Smith, of Shawnee Mission School District, said that education might look different for different grade levels and children with “different levels of internet access at home.”

"But we have to make sure we do something for every single child,” Smith said.

While an educational task force comes together to paint a better picture of what the rest of the academic year will physically entail, Smith said that in such an learning environment, “it has to be personalized.”

Sieck said that although she doesn’t know what model will be used, teachers and students are not done with teaching and learning for the rest of the year.

"I know that for a fact,” Sieck said. "I always say, no one is going to leave my classroom today and do brain surgery tomorrow."

Though education is the top priority in school, it’s the relationships built between student and teacher some will miss most.

"I think what's most sad is that we left for Spring Break and I wished everyone a happy Spring Break and wanted them to have fun and be safe and [now] I will never collectively see those groups of students again,” Sieck said.

Smith said that the adjustment will be an “emotional challenge” for students.

“This is a big change,” Smith said. “They are used to coming to school every day, and they won't be. So we've got to figure out how do we support them in that, as they adapt to the new normal?”