Schools will continue to use much of the technology acquired during distance education
When Estacada schools transitioned from full distance learning to blended learning in early 2021, many high school classrooms had ‘zoom rooms’ or large TV screens where students who were learning at a distance to the day could log on from their personal computers and be part of the class. .
As the Estacada School District begins the 2021-22 school year with full in-person learning, technology acquired at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in classrooms to provide students with additional options to access to their academics.
Mike Waer, director of operations for the Estacada School District, estimated that there were around 40 classrooms in middle and high school buildings with Zoom room technology – TV screens, cameras and microphones.
“When we were in hybrid (learning), our virtual students could learn alongside their peers in the classroom,” he said. “As we move into the next year, we want to continue using this technology. We will be in person, but there might be some instances where a student is virtual.”
As outlined in the Estacada School District back-to-school plan, students who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine and who come in close contact with someone diagnosed with the virus will need to be quarantined for 10 days. Zoom rooms will help them learn from a distance during this time.
Waer also noted that the district’s wireless systems were updated and bolstered with state funds during the previous school year. Additional access points have also been installed.
“With Zoom rooms and students one-on-one with a Chromebook or iPad, it was stressing our wireless infrastructure,” he said.
Although the neighborhood’s Zoom rooms are mainly located at the secondary level, starting from kindergarten, each student receives an iPad or Chromebook to help them with their learning. Wear noted that the Zoom rooms are in an “exploration phase” on the lower levels.
Snowy days are another area where this technology can have another impact.
Although closures due to snow are factored into this year’s school calendar, Waer said increased use of technology could enable virtual learning while buildings are closed during inclement weather. It will depend on other factors, such as whether or not the students have power at home.
“Can students access their learning from anywhere? – not just because of COVID, but maybe they are traveling or are at home for the day,” Waer said.
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