Even in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, the job of educating children continues. Developing online learning has been challenging for school officials. But it’s also been a success.

With schools closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, districts have had to get creative about teaching. And technology. They’ve had to transition to online learning, get instructors up to speed with remote education, and make sure kids have reliable tools and the internet.

One of the biggest challenges for educators is converting their curricula to an online format within weeks. The Montezuma-Cortez school district started with giving families an online needs assessment and then, if necessary, making sure kids had access to a tablet or laptop. Superintendent Lori Haukeness says they’re working with regional internet providers to install boosters in areas of the county with lots of students but spotty broadband. They’re also making use of the existing internet on school property.

From there, district tech staff reconfigured more than 1,000 Chromebook tablets in one week, getting them ready for home use. Then they worked with instructors on preparing them for online teaching. In some cases, it came down to teachers helping teachers.

Haukeness adds that each school had to be handled differently, from the technology to the curriculum. And like so many efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, it was a team effort customized for each school.

The infrastructure had to be put in place quickly to provide some continuity to the educational process.

Districts like Montezuma-Cortez schools also won’t have to deal with the Colorado Measures of Academic Success or CMAS test this year. It’s designed to measure English, math, science, and social studies aptitude and gauge students’ preparation for advancing to their next grade. But one thing they’re still wrestling with is the rite of passage known as the graduation ceremony.

Listen to the feature story:

Listen to the full interview with Montezuma-Cortez School District Superintendent Lori Haukenes:


Open Range News’ Mark Duggan is reporting on the impact of the coronavirus in the Four Corners region for KSUT Public Radio.The stories and audio here were previously aired and published by KSUT.


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