INGLEWOOD — With schools closed for the remainder of the academic year, the Inglewood Unified School District has turned to virtual learning to continue educating more than 11,000 students across the district.
However, before doing so, district leaders had to make sure students had the technology needed to stay connected with their teachers and classmates.
“Over the past two weeks, Inglewood Unified has distributed over 2,000 laptops to those who are in need of technology devices to stay connected,” IUSD County Administrator Erika Torres said.
District leaders have turned to distance learning, hoping to maintain social connections by training teachers to use virtual Google classrooms and Zoom video conference calls.
“What I’m doing is I’m trying to support a lot of different teachers on different platforms. … One English teacher can have more than 100 kids,” said Mary Spruce, an instructional coach at Morningside High School.
Another challenge in the Inglewood school district is language. Some parents primarily speak Spanish, although most virtual instruction is in English.
Meanwhile, educational experts say there is a digital divide in low-income communities, between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those who do not.
The digital divide can only be amplified during uncertain times, when some parents have been laid off because of the economic impact of the coronavirus.
The lack of technology for some low-income families can provide an additional hurdle for students, one that could easily impact at-home learning and educational progress and achievement.
That’s why it was so important for the district to make sure students, whom the majority are Hispanic and black, have laptops and know about the option for free WiFi internet access through Spectrum’s COVID-19 Remote Education Credit.
Meanwhile, the district’s Continuity of Learning plan will serve all district students.
Elementary, middle and high school students have all been provided with custom distance learning daily schedules. The schedules suggest everything from when to begin their day to how to break up academic and exercise time and when to study subjects like reading, writing, math and science.
“During this new phase, your child’s teacher(s) will be reaching out to you regarding continuity of learning. We appreciate your support as we navigate this new way of teaching and learning,” Torres said.
However, district leaders believe some students may still need laptops to stay connected for the remainder of the school year.
If so, parents are encouraged to contact their child’s school principal directly for laptop distribution.
Although forced to communicate through the internet, teachers are still making it a priority to create online lessons, providing students and families with a sense of normalcy during these uncertain times.
“The newness for students, as well as teachers is knowing how to post assignments,” Spruce said. “It’s a different time that we’re all learning to function in.”
The last day of the academic year in the Inglewood Unified School District is June 5.
By John W. Davis