McCORDSVILLE — Dressed in comfy clothes and snuggled up on the family couch, the three Koon children ventured no farther than their living room to attend class Tuesday.
Owen, a seventh-grader at Mt. Vernon Middle School, and his siblings, Avery and Adam, a first-grader and fourth-grader at McCordsville Elementary, completed school assignments from home during the corporation’s first e-learning day.
Though schools were closed because of poor road conditions after a snowy morning, class was still in session for Mt. Vernon students as the corporation utilized its first e-learning day, during which students use school-issued computers or iPads to complete class assignments from home.
The Indiana Department of Education granted the corporation permission last fall to join its roster of districts using virtual learning, which allows schools across the state to conduct class on days when transporting students to school is dangerous. Having class Tuesday means students won’t have to make up missed days during spring break or at the end of the year.
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Teachers prepare assignments in advance that can be completed from home via the Internet. And if there’s no Wi-Fi at home, students have options for getting the work done: teachers send those students home with paper packets to complete.
They can also use their take-home computer anywhere they can access the Internet, such as the local library.
There are standards in place to ensure continuity in teaching; educators are required to show a connection between the lessons students learn in class and what they are assigned on e-learning days.
The Koons started working early Tuesday; mom Lisa Koon and dad Mike Koon also worked from home to be available to help their kids with homework as needed.
By 10 a.m., Owen, Adam and Avery were well on their way to completing their assignments for the day.
For Avery, the day was spent using apps on her school-issued iPad to read and practice spelling; Adam and Owen had math, language arts, reading, social studies and science work to complete.
Though the kids were able to work from their couch, all three admitted they’d rather be at school.
The assignments went quicker since they were working alone rather than being in a classroom, but they said they missed their friends.
Of course, there were upsides — no makeup day and a promise from their dad to go sledding when their work was done.
Though Lisa Koon had to help Avery with some of her assignments, she said the kids were well-prepared for their first virtual-learning day.
“I’m really impressed with how well Mt. Vernon has done with preparing them,” she said.
“They know where they need to be and what they need to do.”
For students across the district, Tuesday’s rollout of the virtual-learning program went well, officials said early Tuesday afternoon.
Mock e-learning days conducted earlier this school year helped prepare teachers, students and technology support staff for a variety of technology problems that might pop up.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the technology center at Mt. Vernon had fielded 43 questions from parents, teachers or students, who were provided with a help hotline.
Of the more than 3,700 kids in the district, very few had problems accessing and completing their assignments, technology director Greg Rollo said.
“It’s new for us, so we’re figuring it out,” Rollo said.
“So far, we haven’t had any curve balls.”
Students have 48 hours to complete Tuesday’s assignments, which gives them some flexibility in choosing how to spend their day away from school.
The type of assignments students are given varies from teacher to teacher, said superintendent Shane Robbins.
The day at home offers students some flexibility in their schooling while also maintaining productivity and keeping them on track, he said.
“Our kids are getting up; they’re really excited,” he said. “They’re working harder, but they’re having fun doing it.”
On Tuesday, Eastern Hancock, Mt. Vernon and Southern Hancock schools canceled classes after a snowy morning made travel conditions poor. Greenfield-Central had a two-hour delay.
While classrooms at Mt. Vernon and Southern Hancock were dark, class was still in session. Students used their school-issued computers to complete assignments from home as part of the districts’ e-learning programs.
If you’re tired of the snow, a break is coming. There is a chance for snow Wednesday night, but not much is expected to accumulate, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures should rise, as well, reaching the low 40s by Friday before dropping again during the weekend, when snow showers are forecast.