The Fergus Falls School District announced through an alert that it will begin distance learning on Monday, March 30.

According to a press release by Superintendent Jeff Drake, distance learning will go on indefinitely as the state continues to battle and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For families with children in grades K-2, teachers will use an instructional platform called “Seesaw.”  Seesaw is a simple way for teachers and students to record and share what’s happening in the classroom. Seesaw gives students a place to document their learning, be creative and learn how to use technology. Each student gets their own journal and will add things to it like photos, videos, drawings or notes.  This is also a familiar technology to many families.  

For families with children in grades 3-12, teachers will use an instructional platform called “Google Classroom” and an interactive communication program called “Zoom.”  Zoom allows live instruction that can be set up to accommodate a group of students.  Teachers can also record lesson plans and save them within Google Classroom for easy access by students.  

Google Classroom is a free web service, developed by Google for schools, that aim to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.

Google Classroom combines Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for writing, Gmail for communication, and Google Calendar for scheduling. Students can be invited to join a class through a private code, or automatically imported from a school domain. Each class creates a separate folder in the respective user’s Google Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher. Mobile apps, available for iOS and Android devices, let users take photos and attach assignments, share files from other apps, and access information offline. Teachers can monitor the progress for each student, and after being graded, teachers can return work along with comments.

Zoom Video Communications is a remote conferencing services company.  It provides a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat and mobile collaboration.

“I have always viewed the education of children as a partnership between school, family and community,” Drake said. “Although students won’t be on-site, we still have the ability to deliver support for mental health and emotional needs.  We intend to be a resource for you as you navigate the challenges of parenting under a distance learning model.”

Drake stated in the release that the school has been preparing teachers and staff for the new model since Gov. Walz directed to for school’s to close.

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