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Pandemic paves way for local school districts to rethink use of technology



Henrietta, N.Y. – Local school leaders say, without a doubt, the pandemic has led to serious challenges for teachers, students and staff – yet it’s also helped them rethink the way technology is used in education.

Rush-Henrietta Superintendent Lawrence “Bo” Wright and Wheatland-Chili Superintendent Lynda Quick discussed how the pandemic has impacted their districts during an installment of the Public Schools in ACTion web series.

For Rush-Henrietta, the pandemic led to many families choosing full remote learning for the school year – nearly 1,400. The district formulated its own Remote Learning Academy to keep up with the demand.

“We decided to essentially staff it like its own little district,” explained Wright. “It has assigned designated administrators, teachers assigned to it, has its own schedule.”

“I think this has been a hard road for everybody,” he added, “but I think there are some silver linings within what happened, and I think from an instructional standpoint, I think it forced us as educators to rethink some of the more traditional aspects of education that didn’t always work too well for a good chunk of our kids.”

Quick said her district worked tirelessly to make sure students and families were equipped with what they needed for remote learning, and she is confident they will be ready in the event in-person learning is put on hold because of COVID-19.

“Students have the technology,” she said. “They’ve been using the technology, and so if they have to stay home because we’re forced into closure for a period of time, they’re able to participate from home and make that seamless transition without a loss of learning.”

Yet she acknowledges remote and hybrid learning has not come without challenges, such as student engagement. She says keeping students engaged in their learning is a true community effort, and that the district and families are turning to semblances of normalcy, such as sports, to help navigate a turbulent period.

“It’s all hands on deck, I think it’s as simple sometimes as that or as difficult as that,” she said. “Teachers, administrators, parents, our community are working together to support our students. As students are struggling, we need to collectively look for solutions.”

“This is a time where everybody’s putting solutions on the table and people are thinking outside of the box and being creative with how we meet the needs of kids,” said Wright. “Speaking for myself and my own organization, Rush Henrietta, I think we’ve done a lot of good things with technology, but there was still a lot more that we could be doing and in some respects how we were using technology, and I think this really opened our minds to a lot of different possibilities.”