Omaha Public Schools has seen success in its virtual summer school program since the middle of June.
OPS’ first virtual summer school began June 15 for around 5,000 students in the area.
Jennifer LeClair, principal of Wakonda Elementary, said there were iPads distributed to elementary students before summer school started.
On those, the students have access to different reading, writing and math applications.
“We are live 30 minutes to work on applications to reinforce learning in class,” she said.
LeClair said it was difficult in the beginning to see what virtual summer school would look like for teachers and students, and training families how to use Microsoft Teams.
“We were open to take a risk by trying (virtual learning),” she said.
Rochelle Ramharter, a fifth grade teacher at Fontenelle Elementary, said it has been great working with students with technology.
“It’s cool to learn different things within technology,” she said. “We even got the opportunity to meet with people from Apple and we watch updates and tutorials on how to best utilize the tools we’ve been given.”
LeClair said utilizing technology has been beneficial for teachers and students alike, and will be useful when students go back to the classroom.
“I think what online learning has forced us to do is force is outside of our comfort zone,” she said. “We do it successfully and we do things on the computer that we wouldn’t be able to do before. It’s so cool to see how dedicated teachers are to their students.
“We have preliminary talks with how to transition that into the classroom technology. I’m excited for the teachers and students and excited to use tools in school full-time in a blended environment and excited with the growth we’ve seen.”
Despite the pros of online learning, LeClair said she misses the face-to-face interaction with students.
“We miss human interaction and we want to be with the kids,” she said.
Ramharter said she sees virtual learning expanding once students are back in school.
“I learned so many tools and tactics so we can transition to online in the fall,” she said. “Technology surrounds the world kids are growing up in, and families are still engaged because of the iPads.”
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