Burrton schools ready for remote learning

BURRTON—Classes for Burrton students resumed Wednesday as the district begins to venture into teaching students remotely at home.

“It’s tough” Superintendent Joan Simoneau said. “We had a week to put it all together. There’ll be some wins and some losses and we’ll all learn together.”

She added that she hoped teachers, students and families would all give each other and themselves some grace as they work through this.

Teachers will be looking at the most important education standards that they wanted to cover this year and really focus in on helping students learn those take-aways for next year, Simoneau said.

Fourth-graders through high-schoolers will be using Google Classroom for their assignments. All students sixth grade or older have their own technology device through the district’s 1-1 initiative.

Students without access to technology or the internet will be provided with packets, and teachers will be phoning them twice a week to check in.

Simoneau said there were only nine families in the district without access to internet. She noted that Wi-Fi is available in the high school parking lot, in the gazebo by the public library or outside of city hall—as long as users maintain social distancing.

The district will be following state guidelines of three hours of schoolwork a day for older students and 30 minutes a day for younger students.

Preschool through third grade will be utilizing the platform Seesaw.

“It’s a great way for families and students and teachers to get together,” Simoneau said. “They can also use Zoom if they want to get the whole class to chat.”

For these youngest students, Simoneau said their daily time with teachers would probably include their morning warm-ups and a storytime, but they won’t be given any homework assignments.

She agreed that the district’s redesign initiatives in the past two years through the Gemini I program has taught students and staff how to think outside the box.

“Redesign asks you to think in different ways. COVID-19 demanded it,” Simoneau said.

Simoneau also gave a shout-out to all the district’s non-teaching staff.

“If not for our classified staff, the custodians, aides and kitchen staff, we would not be able to do what we’re doing right now,” she said.

One of the things these staff members have been busy with is serving free grab-and-go lunches to students in the parking lot. Burrton has been averaging about 130 meals served a day, which is more than half its student population.

“The classified staff are the unsung heroes who are working hard for us,” Simoneau added.

One of the fun ways the school has been engaging with students this week is with a virtual spirit week. This was the brainchild of long-term substitute counselor Aubrey Barton. Each day, students or staff can send in photos of themselves participating in themes like Move It Monday, Talent Tuesday, Watcha Readin’ Wednesday, Throwback Thursday and Favorite Color Friday. The photos are then posted on the Burrton Chargers Facebook page.

Simoneau said they would continue thinking up fun ideas like this for students in the coming weeks.

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