COVID-19 forces school administration to consider remote learning



Brookline High School is closed until March 27. Teachers were allowed to be in the building on Friday, March 13 to bring home belongings.

With the cancellation of Brookline Public Schools until March 27 due to COVID-19, the question arises of how students will continue learning at home.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Nicole Gittens, Brookline does not have the ability to run online teaching because the town does not have the full technological capacity. Not only that, but not all students have internet access. Because students cannot visit the library due to the shutdown of Brookline Public Libraries, it would be an equity problem to assign work over the next two weeks. Right now, the main focus is making sure everyone is taking care of themselves.

“This is a new world for us right now, and we don’t want to make people feel anxiety over: ‘Oh my gosh, I have to get this thing done’ when they are really trying to figure out, ‘How do I make sure my kid is covered while I go to work, or what do I do when I’m not at work or I have five kids?’” Gittens said.

On top of thinking about the needs of families and students, Gittens also has concerns for teachers.

“We also want to make sure that it’s important for our teachers to be able to take care of themselves and take care of their families. We don’t want teachers to feel any pressure to push out or collect work and provide things for students,” Gittens said.

In the meantime, the school administration hopes to find ways to keep students committed through reading and journaling. They also plan on providing online resources for families who have access to the internet.

“We’d like to provide families with some ways to keep their children engaged in work. Not necessarily new learning but opportunities for students to keep their mind sharp and to engage in the thinking process,” Gittens said.

The school administration plans to send more information at the beginning of next week about what to expect during the two-week closure. Gittens said that what is happening right now will not replace school and that a plan for remote schooling is being worked on.

“We are trying to think 10 steps ahead to the left and to the right. We are really trying to incorporate everything and we will miss some things and I hope the community expends some grace in recognizing that planning for 8,000 students and 1,500 staff folks is challenging,” Gittens said.

Gittens acknowledged that at the end of the day, the priority is safety and making sure people who need help receive it.

“What’s really important and the goal of public education is to make sure we are providing the best for everyone. We have to think about our students who have different learning styles and need different kinds of support and what that looks like for them,” Gittens said. “I just hope that people are safe and that they are taking care of themselves and that people are also being patient and having grace during a time period we have never seen before.”

Read about how teachers feel about COVID-19 and the school closing here, and get live updates here.