COLORADO SPRINGS — The pandemic drastically changed how students learn in the classroom and how teachers teach. But one local school district says there were a lot of lessons learned in how to move forward.
Allison Cortez, the Chief Communications Officer at Academy School District 20 in Colorado Springs says the three biggest lessons learned, were bridging the technology divide, expanding mental health resources for students and staff, and having more professional learning time for teachers.
“The technology divide does exist and so is the importance of each student having their own device, having their own computer and having access to the internet,” said Cortez. “That's something we've worked on and it will live with us through the pandemic.”
During the pandemic, Cortez said the district received extra funding from the federal government to invest in technology and build a plan that makes technology replacement sustainable.
“We’re going to keep on with that plan that we had put in place in the last year, and keep supplying those devices to each students,” said Cortez. “We just needed that extra boost, and oddly enough the pandemic gave us that boost.”
Another thing D20 learned, was that mental health among students and staff is a priority. Mental health support has always been in place, but the district has been able to expand services.
“Knowing that we have to think about the whole student, the whole adults, yes, we're here for academics and rigor, but we're also here to to be socially and emotionally well,” said Cortez.
This summer, D20 also had more counselors on hand for students, and that will continue throughout the school year.
Cortez also said a silver lining from the pandemic was students and staff developing a large sense of gratitude and hope.
“We started school yesterday, some of our students came back today and we've never seen happier students and staff,” said Cortez. “You can feel it when you walk in the doors, and I think we're all feeling very lucky that we're back to where we were before two years ago.”
D20 also learned that providing professional learning time for teachers works. Every Wednesday last school year, teachers had late starts, and they want to continue doing that this school year. It gave them the chance to work with students and prepare for the school day.
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