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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and School: Remote Learning

Michelle M. Karten, MD
August 2020

What Can We Do to Be Ready for Remote Learning?

To prepare yourself and your child:

  • Make sure your internet access is up to date. Let the school know if you need help getting reliable access. Many school districts have WiFi hotspots they can share with students who need them.
  • Make sure your child has a device that can access the internet. Many schools have devices they can loan if you need one.
  • Some teaching might be done live with a teacher instructing a group of students in real time, but not in person (this is called synchronous learning). Students also can expect to learn at their own pace on their own time via videos or digital assignments (called asynchronous learning). You might need more than one program, app, or software on your child's device to do this. Most are free to download. Contact school staff if you need help. Some of this tech can be complicated at first, but will get easier each time you use it.
  • Stick to a routine. Have your child wake up at the same time each day and get dressed for the day. Set time for physical activity.
  • Create a schedule to help your child keep up with assignments. A calendar posted in sight of where your child learns can help.
  • Set up a learning space that is as free of noise and distractions as possible. Consider getting headphones for your child to reduce distractions (unless you also need to hear the teacher to help your child learn). Be flexible as you find what works best for your situation.
  • Plan to communicate often with the teacher. Let the teacher know what is going well and what is not. Work on solutions together.
  • If your child gets meals in school, find out how that will continue during remote learning.

How Can I Help My Child Succeed in Remote Learning?

Parents might wonder how involved they should be in their child's remote learning. You're not expected to be the teacher. Your role is to keep your child on track. Here's how:

  • Encourage and support your child to give their best effort.
  • Don't do the work for them or correct their answers. Have your child reach out to the teacher for help if needed.
  • Give feedback to the teacher about what works and what doesn't.
  • If your child does synchronous classes, you might need help with the technology. Teach your child how to mute and unmute, raise a hand, and wait for their turn, and what to do if they want to speak.
  • Remind them to follow the teacher's rules, which might include always having the camera on, not using different backgrounds, and using their actual name onscreen. Ask the teacher to review rules of the chat feature if it will be open during the class.

What Else Should I Know?

With a fully remote learning plan, kids will miss out on in-person interactions at school. So make sure your child has social connections. These could include:

  • video play dates or talks with family
  • physically distanced playdates with families you know. Ask if they've taken precautions and practiced social distancing. Be ready to cancel if someone in your family or theirs has symptoms.
  • family fun times.