ECASD to move to full virtual learning temporarily, including 4K students

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:56 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Eau Claire Area School District is the latest in the area to switch to virtual learning for a temporary period after Thanksgiving break.

ECASD announced starting on Nov. 30 every student in the district will be fully virtually learning for a temporary period.

That includes, for the first time this school year, 4K and early learning students.

Mariah Halling is preparing to begin virtually teaching her 24 4K students.

However, she expects it to come with some challenges.

“Holding their attention virtually is going to be really difficult,” said Halling.

The district decided to temporarily move to virtual learning because of a staff shortage, according to Superintendent Michael Johnson.

“In the past week, our staff absences just due to quarantine have more than tripled from 26 to 95,” he explained.

For Halling, her and the other 4K teachers are in the process of moving their curriculum online.

She says they want to make it flexible for the families.

“We have a format so we will go live with each of our curriculums,” explains Halling. “So kids can join live just throughout the day, but then we also made it flexible so that they can join at a different time. So the video will be uploaded.”

She says 4K and early learning sets the foundation for future learning, and wants families to know that every teacher is doing what they can to keep everything moving forward.

“We know our students really well, we know how they learn best, and we know what essential standards we need to teach them. So I just hope that families feel supported supported and encouraged and engaged during this time and we’re just going to do our best to make sure that their kids are getting exactly what they need,” said Halling.

The district said the shift to virtual learning was a difficult, but necessary one.

“We’re hopeful this decision to keep this model in place until at least December 8-th will further slow the spread of the virus after the Thanksgiving break when we know that many families will travel and gather with others,” said Johnson.

Johnson says the district will decide by Dec. 1 whether to extend the virtual learning past Dec. 8 or go back to the hybrid model.

Some video shots in this story were taken in Feb. 2020.

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