The School Zone: News


Learning during COVID-19

Spring Branch ISD administrator Kathy Lee compared it to a catastrophic earthquake from her own childhood. Pine Shadows Elementary leaders wore sequined outfits and shook pompoms despite Stay-At-Home order’s blues. An elementary counselor finds future hope from young smiling faces.

Those were a few of the personal snapshots found amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a learning packet distribution held at SBISD’s Edgewood Elementary School.

The campus was one of three host district sites for distribution of printed guides and student materials chosen for a March 24 curbside parent pickup.

The three sites were brought up quickly – essentially overnight – after a Stay-At-Home order was announced and set to take effect on March 25 for Houston and Harris County. In all, approximately 8,500 student learning packets were handed out, with extra packets being printed.

Under an elearning initiative called Digital Backpack, SBISD has created a unique website to support student learning, loaded with learning guides by grade level and many other student resources and engagement tools.

By mid-week, the Digital Backpack website had been visited more than 79,000 times, ranking as one of the largest online reading and resource download events in district history.

Below is a snapshots from Tuesday’s Backpack packet distribution.

Crisis Learning Veteran

At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, Kathy Lee, SBISD director of intervention and former assistant principal, read a text asking for packet distribution volunteers. Sometime after 9 a.m., she began several hours of waving drivers to available packet pick-up stations in the school driveway.

“I come from a country where I understood when something big happened, you could not go to school,” said Lee, a Nicaragua native. She was a young student when a deadly earthquake in 1972 devastated the Central American nation, leveling or closing down much of the infrastructure, including Lee’s own school.

“I remember that I had to do so many things at my home, and I read books,” she recalls.

As an Academics Dept. team member, Lee knows what’s inside all the guides and learning packets firsthand. The district team worked feverishly during the week of Spring Break to be ready for both the digital and print-based roll outs of the Digital Backpack.

“It’s great to know that our kids will be engaged in meaningful and worthwhile learning at home. This is not busy work,” she noted.

Lee, who has a daughter attending Texas A&M University and a working adult son, knows that the world has changed. Both children are currently staying at home and, like everyone, learning or working online.

New lessons will be posted in the Digital Backpack each Sunday evening. Lee's experience with adjusting to new ways of learning when the world has drastically changed will add unique perspective and voice to the SBISD academic team developing future elearning content.



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