Pandemic Education: How a grant is helping Jackson County students learn

A message from Ann Burns, Community Foundation of Jackson County board member and substitute teacher

One of the best uses of the disaster relief money is to help students who, by necessity or family choice, are learning remotely.The Community Foundation of Jackson County awarded $2,500 through its Disaster Recovery Fund to Sacred Heart School in Maquoketa to help students and teachers succeed with remote learning. The funds were used to purchase two iPads and Swivl tracking devices. The Swivl holds an iPad and turns it to follow a teacher wearing a microphone and tracking mechanism. 

I witnessed this grant in action while substitute teaching this winter. The pandemic has posed many challenges for education, but with support from the Disaster Recovery Fund and attentive educators, students are staying safe and continuing to learn. 

Students at school and at home are confident in using this technology. A few minutes before I started language arts and math lessons, one of the students in the room set up the iPad and the teacher’s laptop and started the Zoom session to connect with two online students. The online students were able to see, hear and participate in the classroom discussion. Then, each of them was able to participate in a discussion with individual students in the room to partner read, discuss passages we had read as a group, and ask questions. The systems keep these students engaged with their teacher and peers. It is so great!  

Another observation is that the students I have worked with are adjusting to the new way their schools are operating. While a (very) few students need a reminder once in a while to pull their mask all the way up or use hand sanitizer as they enter the room, new processes like masking up, hand cleaning and sanitizing desks, have become routine to them. 

Although my observations are but a snapshot of a few days, I see students learning at the same levels and adapting to new practices that enable them to interact with each other in a similar way as pre-pandemic. If anything, my impression is they are even a bit kinder to each other – and willing to give someone a break or pat on the back when needed.

Take care all,