COVID & the Classroom | New Hampshire Public Radio

COVID & the Classroom

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the education system across the country, and in New Hampshire. School leaders are making some of the hardest decisions of their lives, and school staff, students, and families are navigating unknown territory that could have big consequences.

For some, the risks of contracting and spreading the virus are too high to return to school. But closing or limiting access to school can hamper kids’ education, deepen existing inequalities, and wreak havoc on family finances.

NHPR’s “COVID & the Classroom” tells the stories of how Granite Staters are weighing the necessity of employment and school with the realities of the pandemic. We’re here to answer your questions, investigate what’s not working, and share how communities and families are adapting.

Every few weeks, we ask you a new question to help inform our reporting. Click here to see our current question.

You can also email us tips and questions about what you’re seeing, or photos of remote learning at education@nhpr.org.

Courtesy Moira Ryan

For many students with disabilities, school closure has been a major setback. That’s because in addition to regular classes, these students get extra support - anything from tutoring to help walking and eating. And as NHPR’s Sarah Gibson reports, many families are wondering when their kids can resume these services in person.


Johannes Thiel via Flickr cc

The New Hampshire Department of Education has created a task force to determine how public schools should resume this fall.

The School Transition Reopening and Redesign Taskforce will look at lessons from remote learning and at different approaches schools could take next year as the pandemic continues.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

A group convened by the Department of Education met for the first time Thursday to figure out how New Hampshire’s schools can resume in the fall.

Starting Monday, Advanced Placement exams, which test high schoolers' knowledge of college material, will take an unusual form. The high-anxiety, college credit tests normally last three hours and are taken in person. But this year, in response to disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak, the College Board, which administers AP exams, shortened the tests to 45 minutes and moved them online.

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

High schools have new guidance from the state on hosting graduation ceremonies during school closure. In a memo shared on Wednesday, the New Hampshire Department of Education says schools can host in-person ceremonies, if all attendees can easily maintain proper social distancing.

The Department of Education suggests car parades and virtual graduations as a substitute.

Courtesy Karena Czzowitz

Karena Czzowitz, a junior at Manchester School of Technology, is studying to be a Licensed Nursing Assistant. LNA’s are in high demand across New Hampshire, especially in nursing homes.

But with school closures during the coronavirus pandemic, Karena is missing a big part of her education. 

This week, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that more than $300 million from the first coronavirus rescue package will go to two education grant competitions for K-12 and higher ed.

States will be able to apply for a piece of the $180 million allotted to the "Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant" and $127.5 million allotted to the "Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant."

Courtesy of Sandie MacDonald

The New Hampshire Department of Education estimates about a dozen school districts are ending the school year early, due to challenges of remote learning.

Earlier this week, the Monadnock and ConVal school districts became the latest to announce a truncated school year. Rochester, Milford, and the Groveton, Stark and Stratford district are also ending in May.

Some districts eliminated part or all of April break in order to accrue enough class instructional hours to meet state requirements in less time.

Courtesy Gabby Bradt

Before school closure, Dr. Susan Pike’s classrooms were loud, and she prided herself on it.

Students in her high school science classes at the private school St. Thomas Aquinas High School, in Dover, would do calculations together on the white board, bounce between group experiments, and crowd over microscopes to inspect pond scum.

“One of the favorites is the pond water [lessons], where we're looking at different species and then doing things with food webs, and they're all looking at microscopes and finding these disgusting worms,” she says. “And people are talking to each other and sharing their ideas.”

Courtesy of Cadence Solsky

It's been a tough week for New Hampshire students, teachers and parents.

Governor Chris Sununu officially closed schools for the rest of the academic year, which means seniors like Cadence Solsky of Concord will spend their last semester of high school at home.  

Click here to sign up for our coronavirus newsletter to get the latest updates.

NHPR Photo

Gov. Chris Sununu has ordered remote learning at New Hampshire schools to be extended through the end of the academic year. That means all public schools, and private schools, will remain closed, as students continue their studies from home.

NHPR's Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut about what this means for students, parents, and educators across the state.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

Remote Learning: How Are Grades K-12 Faring?

Apr 17, 2020
Needpix

It’s been one month since schools in New Hampshire were shuttered to stem the spread of coronavirus, and now, they'll be closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Since then, teachers, parents, and administrators have been working to implement remote learning for students in kindergarten through high school. Teachers have had to re-work their curricula while coordinating with parents about students' academic needs.

Meanwhile, students are feeling the pressure, and many are already weeks behind on their schoolwork. In the first hour of our special on how N.H. students are adjusting to remote learning during stay-at-home orders, we talk with teachers, parents, and administrators about how it has been going for them and what changes might be made in the future.

Air date: Monday, April 20, 2020, from 9-10 a.m.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

One month ago today, Gov. Chris Sununu issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the coronavirus.

Since then, the governor has issued more than two dozen additional emergency orders, touching nearly every aspect of life in the state - shutting all public schools, closing nonessential businesses, and encouraging Granite Staters to stay at home unless necessary.

Courtesy of Facebook/Nashua Children's Home

The state’s residential facilities and detention center for youth are modifying operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but some advocates say change isn’t coming fast enough.

As of April 1, about 350 young people were in residential facilities operated by 13 different providers across the state. About half of the youth are involved in the juvenile justice system; the rest were placed by child protective services.

File Photo, NHPR

New Hampshire school districts are weighing whether to cancel April vacation in light of coronavirus-related closures. Some districts have sent out surveys to families and teachers before making a final call this week.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on coronavirus in New Hampshire delivered to your inbox.  

Courtesy Krystin Cooney

Families are spending a lot of time together these days, often confined to their houses – and if they’re lucky, some open space or woods nearby.

That's led to some deep explorations for one family into the mysteries behind their house.

Sara Plourde | NHPR

For parents staying at home right now, there's added pressure besides trying to figure out work, money, and other stressors related to the coronavirus pandemic. That pressure is all about learning at home...and we're wondering, how's that going in your house?

This program aired on Wednesday, April 1st.

Courtesy of Liz Kirwan

New Hampshire school districts began another week of remote learning with a new timeline: school closures until at least May, if not the rest of the semester.

Schools are figuring out how to deliver the essentials to students at home, but a lot of teachers and families say that even those basics are overwhelming. 

Courtesy of Timberlane Regional School District

Families in the Timberlane Regional School District are awaiting a school board vote Tuesday night that will determine whether to allow videoconferencing for remote learning.

The board will vote on a memorandum of understanding between the Timberlane Teachers’ Association and the district, outlining the implementation of videoconferencing and giving staff the option to use it.

As of now, there is no video conferencing in the district, making it an outlier in the statewide shift to online remote learning.

US Army Corp of Engineers / Flickr CC

A coalition of administrative and teacher associations is issuing recommendations for remote learning in New Hampshire. The guidance comes as districts face long-term school closure until at least May, if not for the rest of the semester.

Click here to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on coronavirus in New Hampshire delivered to your inbox.

Courtesy of Gabby Oja

Schools are wrapping up their first full week of remote learning - and for many students and teachers, that’s meant a lot of time online. But this transition has been particularly difficult for families without reliable internet at home.

biologycorner / Flickr Creative Commons

 

Groups representing public school administrators and teachers are calling for the state to postpone student assessments this spring, in light of emergency school closures.

U.S. Department of Education told states they could apply for a waiver to defer tests required by federal law until the end of the national emergency. The DOE is streamlining the application process for states applying for the waiver; nearly all have applied, with the exception of New Hampshire.

NHPR Photo

It’s a big transition week for school districts in New Hampshire. By next Monday, they’re expected to begin remote learning for students until at least April 3, as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts are communicating with families and teachers about how this will all work, but many questions remain. 

Courtesy of Manchester School District

 

Manchester, the state's largest school district, is racing to get ready for remote learning as part of the statewide closure of all public schools.

Like many districts, Manchester is compiling data from surveys sent out to parents and students about their home access to Internet and computers or tablets. 

Courtesy of Martha Dalrymple

 

With New Hampshire schools now closed, teachers are facing an unprecedented challenge: how to teach their students remotely for at least three weeks. Schools are figuring out how to get meals and computers to students in need, and teachers are trying to figure out how to keep students engaged while isolated at home. NHPR’s Sarah Gibson has more.

File Photo, NHPR

As states across the country announce school closures in response to COVID-19, an increasing number of districts in New Hampshire are following suit, as they assess their ability to offer remote learning in the event of long-term shutdowns.

USDA / Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Department of Education is asking the USDA for waivers so that schools can continue offering meals to students even if buildings close in response to COVID-19.

Other states are making similar requests, as schools prepare for the possibility of having to close buildings and shift to long-term remote instruction.

Click here for our live blog for the latest updates on coronavirus in New Hampshire.

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