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South Siskiyou schools open with distance learning

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
Dunsmuir Elementary School second/third grade teacher Jessica Hatten shows Landon Martin and his dad how to navigate Google Classroom.

Dunsmuir Elementary School, Sisson School and Mount Shasta Elementary School have all started the year with 100% distance learning. Due to the smoky conditions, Weed Elementary School, which planned to begin in-person learning on Monday, Aug. 24, was forced to postpone their first day.

“Our current air index quality is listed as unhealthy and is projected to be unhealthy for the coming week,” WES announced on its Facebook page on Sunday. 

COVID-19 protocols called for windows and doors to remain open as much as possible for ventilation. However, with unhealthy air due to wildfires in the state, “we would be drawing this back into the classroom and putting our students and staff at risk.”

A decision about WES’s first day will be announced by Friday.

Sisson fourth grader Caleb Gerdes is welcomed by his teacher, Valerie Collord and her husband, volunteer George on Monday when he collected supplies necessary for distance learning.

At DES, families met in person with teachers for the first three days of school last week to prepare children for the challenge of virtual learning, said principal/superintendent Susan Keeler.

At Sisson and MSE, students  met with their teachers and picked up Chromebooks and other supplies on Monday. They logged in for their first day of class on Tuesday.

DES students were each shown what the learning day will look like by logging into Google Classroom, navigating to schedules, and reviewing how to log onto Zoom sessions, said Keeler. They were also able to sign up for various services such as meal delivery, counseling, weekend food backpack program, as well as check out devices and hotspots for internet access. 

Dunsmuir Elementary School first Grader Sarah Butler is all prepared to begin her school year learning online.

DES teachers “spent a large amount of their well-earned time off engaged in professional development all geared towards preparing themselves for the possibility of beginning the 2020/21 school year in distance learning,” said Keeler. “When that became a reality in early August, they were ready to embrace the change whole-heartedly.”

“While I’m super proud of my staff for the way they have stepped up to meet the challenge, I’m not at all surprised,” Keeler said. “When you have people who are as passionate and committed to the social/emotional and academic education of children as we do, there is no doubt they will shine when the chips are down.”