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School goes to children as distance learning begins March 30

All throughout Bluff View Elemtary School Tuesday were brown paper bags, about six hundred in all, all destined for the homes of elementary school students later this week.

Inside are supplies to enable the students to do distance learning while the COVID-19 pandemic keeps them out of the school building.

Bluff View Principal Jim Borgschatz said that teachers have worked in daily planning sessions to develop the distance learning plans.

“We had to build distance with little to no experience with planning for one to two months of no face-to-face classroom time,” he said. “This has stretched the teachers in ways they have not had to think about prior to March 16.

“We are ready to virtually reach out to all families starting on March 30.”

Packages will be delivered via school bus to school-bus-eligible children this week.

First grade teacher Amy Heise’s students will find the following in their bags: books, math materials, an iPad and charger, materials for online lessons, and tech support materials for parents.

Students in grades one through six will get iPads. Kindergarteners will have activity packages, Borgshatz said.

“We are going to start slow and get the technology to work for everyone in grades one through six before we jump into the heavy academic areas,” he said.

School days for Heise’s students will begin with a live session with students on the online meeting platform Zoom.

Then students can work from videos she recorded in advance. She said the lessons are pre-recorded because the students are young and may need help from a parent. The videos allow the lessons to be completed whenever parents are available to help.

“Parents will be vital in communicating back to each of their children’s teachers,” Borgschatz said. (See related story about Lake City Public Schools parent communication.)

Another online platform Heise’s students will use is called SeeSaw.

From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. she’ll connect with students individually or in small groups using Zoom.

Physical education teachers Kelly O’Laughlin and Joe Garvin are preparing video lessons for students. They’ll have live online sessions with the students every two weeks.

Heise said the work that has been done at the school over the last two weeks to prepare for this rollout has made her proud of her profession.

“I’m so thankful the governor gave us the time he did in order to prepare for this,” she said.

It’s not the classroom, Heise said, but they’ll make distance learning work as well as possible.

“We miss the kids dearly,” she said. “We can’t wait to start connecting with them on March 30.”


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