GERMANTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County Public Schools is giving each student without access to a laptop at home the tools they need to succeed while schools are closed.
School staff started handing out laptops Thursday morning ahead of the start of online distance learning next week.
Technology has increasingly become a part of normal school instruction, but as Northwest High School principal Jimmy D’Andrea explains there are new responsibilities that come with distance learning.
“Students are used to using Chromebooks for instruction, but now students don’t have the teacher in the classroom with them,” he said.
The school handed out about 100 laptops in just the first 20 minutes they started passing them out.
At home, making the switch requires effort from both students and parents.
“Students should develop a routine, in terms of setting a specific time and place where they’re going to work on assignments from home. We ask parents to check in with their students and monitor their students’ progress to make sure they all stay on track during the times schools are closed,” D’Andrea suggests.
Making the switch to go entirely remote is uncharted territory for many MCPS teachers, especially those who teach younger students. Older students have more experience with technology both in and out of the classroom.
“I teach third grade, so my students are just getting used to working on a computer,” said Michelle Wilson, an MCPS teacher.
Wilson has been a teacher for 30 years; she says it’s going to be a big learning curve for her and her students.
“Because of the curve, there’s a lot of angst. ‘How do I teach like this? I’m used to having my students in front of me, I’m used to small groups, I’m used to hands-on,'” she explains.
MCPS says the main goals for next week include getting staff and students acclimated to home learning and completing third marking period assignments.
The school has system has not yet released information on how it will go about helping students with different learning abilities or needs during the time schools are closed.