Williston’s District #1 plans students’ home-schooling

WILLISTON, N.D. - Schools in North Dakota are closed indefinitely to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. This is pushing districts to create opportunities for students to finish out the school-year at home.

Williston Public School District #1 plans on sending its distance-learning plan to Department of Public Instruction for approval Wednesday, and will start at-home school April 1.

Students are receiving some at-home assignments right now.

Ainslen Tanner 6th Grader said, “My band teacher sent an email out to our parents saying we need to go out on our porch around 7 p.m. every day and play anything out of our books.”

They are anxiously waiting for the launch-date of their full distance-learning curriculum, which might not be difficult for tech savvy students.

Ainslen added, “Pretty much all of our stuff is online.”

The district’s Emergency Response Team is using the pandemic as an opportunity to reimagine what education looks like in the 21st Century. Members are working with teachers to move towards personalized learning.

WPSD#1 Superintendent Dr. Jeff Thake said: “This is where students are able to work at their own pace based on their own strengths and interests. A lot of this also has to do with implementation of technology. I feel like our students are going to respond to this very quickly, and they’re going to be able to respond to this very effectively.”

Students will get laptops if they need them and take-home packets. They’ll check-in for attendance and receive online guidance from teachers using programs like Powerschool and Google Classroom.

“Teachers are excited,” stated WPSD#1 Assistant Superintendent Lori Olson. “I know some of our PE teachers already have menus for students; things they can do and things they can take outside.”

The district wants to offer equal services to all students.

WPSD#1 Chief Technology Officer Leon Walter added: “Families who need either internet services at home, or need a device. We can work with Midco, Nemont, Hughes Net is out there, Verizon. They are all possibilities for meeting their needs.”

At-home public-school is uncharted territory for many students and teachers, but they are willing to learn.