PPS, Salem-Keizer making headway on distance learning

Coronavirus

PPS officials say their teachers are getting creative

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some of our largest school districts like Portland Public Schools and Salem-Keizer are still making headway teaching from home.

Portland Public Schools are wrapping up their last day of distributing Chromebooks to students as part of the distance learning effort. PPS handed out more than 12,000 laptops while Salem-Keizer School District has passed out around 25,000. Salem-Keizer is also still hand-delivering hundreds more to those who still need them.

“We’re embracing it as an on going process throughout this emergency closure.” said Lillian Govus, director of community relations and communications for Salem-Keizer. “We’re just taking this one day at a time as it comes to our curriculum.”

PPS officials say their teachers are getting creative.

“One teacher in particular wrote a song for his kindergarten class to help them read and he’s sounding out words and singing along to it,” said Karen Werstein, the public information officer for PPS. “It’s really adorable.”

Salem-Keizer said they want to make home learning as painless as possible for the next eight weeks.

“We don’t expect our parents to try and simulate what happens in the classroom,” said Govus. “We know that what our teachers do is really special — and that’s hard to replicate.”

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PPS and Salem-Keizer are still working on connecting students with internet access who don’t have it at home — giving them six months of service for free through Comcast.

PPS’ food distribution is averaging nearly 10,000 meals a day. For students who are not online yet, printed learning materials are provided at Portland meal sites.

PPS has also partnered with DoorDash to get meals, computers and hotspots to the most vulnerable and immunocompromised students and families, but PPS officials say they’re still facing barriers.

“The biggest challenge is still connecting with families we may not have have heard from yet,” said Karen W. “We’re working around the clock with our translation team so someone can speak to them in their languages.”

In Salem-Keizer, they’ve figured out that 70% of their seniors already have the credits they need to graduate.

“That’s wonderful because that means we can create individualized plans for the remaining 700 students to get them across the finish line before the end of the school year,” said Karen.

Although there is no manual for these unprecedented times, these school districts have highlighted that student progress is continuing even outside the classroom.

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