Vermont schools adjust to unique challenges of remote learning

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BURLINGTON, VT- As schools across the state get used to remote learning, the Agency of Education has asked schools to create what is known as Continuity of Learning plans to make sure students don’t lose academic ground while their classrooms are closed

However, remote learning poses special challenges for some educators. Superintendent of the Burlington School District Yaw Obeng said adjusting is a team effort and he recognizes that not everyone is equipped. The district is working with companies like Burlington Telecom to make sure students have access to internet and devices.

“This is not a normal situation, so the medium of education is not going to be normal,” he said. “We have given devices from grade 3-12 to students, and that was in our first phase. We have created the continuity of learning plan so they can continue to do work with that,”

Remote learning is especially challenging for special education teachers and their students, said Hannah Morrison, a special education teacher at Burlington High School.

Morrison said she has been working on her student’s individual education plans or IEP’s.

 “It’s been an exercise in creativity, an exercise in patience,” she said. “I think we’ve learned to collaborate in different ways we are working to extrapolate information from their IEP’s and translating it into what can be a distance learning plan.”

In total, the district has created more than 700 IEP’S. Educators said it’s involved a lot of trial and error.

“We want them to be as similar as possible to what they would be at school,  but that in itself has no meaning until you start thinking about what that looks like,” said Burlington’s Director of Student Support Services Laura Nugent.

Morrison said she has been scheduling one-on-one time with her students through phone calls and video platforms.

“Really what it comes down to for me and my students because I don’t want to speak for other special educators, is working with them figuring out what works and then find something that fits them at this time,” said Morrison.

While the district believes digital learning will not replace the classroom connection, they are taking the negatives with the positives.

“I would say that we are learning some things that we will be able to translate into a general practice when this is all over,” said Obeng.

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