AUSTIN (KXAN) — The superintendent of central Texas’ biggest school district is spending his last few months on the job, helping facilitate education at home.
Paul Cruz announced earlier this year he’s resigning and taking a new job at the University of Texas at Austin. While his last day with the Austin Independent School District is still to be determined, Cruz is working with district officials to help students continue their education at home during the Stay Home-Work Safe order.
“Low tech” and “high tech” options
A “high tech” option for learning at home involves logging on to your school’s website to access the curriculum. Each school designed its own continuous learning plan that students can access at home.
KXAN spoke with a Joslin Elementary School parent who said their curriculum became available this week.
“We have a good, good communication with all the other kindergarten parents. We have a Facebook group. We have a PTA group,” said Bri Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has two sons — a kindergartner and a toddler. Her older son’s teacher posted her weekly agenda on Joslin’s website.
“They said you can go from doing an hour to two hours a day to doing a full day,” she explained.
Rodriguez said she’s working from home right now, and her husband will start to work from home next week. Since the online classes don’t have to meet at a certain time, she said that helps with having to balance working and teaching.
“So it’s going to be easier for parents, especially working from home, parents that are multiple children, you know,” she said. “Our kids aren’t the easiest, so I’m hoping that he retains the information and then we can continue on. Everyone get healthy, have a fun summer and go to first grade next year — smart as can be!”
But because AISD’s Chromebook distribution so far has focused on grades three through 12, “On a lot of the mom networks that I’ve been on, [parents] are worried about how their children are learning because they don’t have access to tablets, laptops,” Rodriguez said. “My laptop is strictly for work. We luckily got one for free from one of the networks. Another mom was gracious enough.”
A “low tech” learning at home option AISD rolled out for families who do not have laptops or tablets is offering paper learning packets to elementary and middle school students.
They also have a “mid tech” option. Parents can use a password-free district-wide website to help guide their at-home teaching. At the board meeting, the district officials said they’re averaging 12,000 views a day.
AISD’s Technology Officer Kevin Schwartz told the board about 8,000 Chromebooks have gone out for delivery already, but they still have about 10,000 that have not be delivered, yet.
He said they have the supply, but need the students’ correction contact information.
“I heard today that more than 50% of the students that have told us that they need Chromebooks have given us a different address than they have in our system, which means they’re displaced,” Schwartz said. “They may be a few doors down the hall or they may be across town. They were displaced. We even have some students that are in other states right now.”
He said the district will also look at supplying younger students with tablets.