Low-income families more likely to choose virtual learning

Our analysis shows low-income families are more likely to choose virtual learning for their children rather than to send them to campus this year.

HOUSTON — Low-income families are more likely to choose virtual learning for their children rather than to send them on campus this fall, according to a KHOU 11 analysis of records from 10 Houston-area school districts.

Under the Texas Public Information Act, we received data from Clear Creek ISD, Conroe ISD, Cy-Fair ISD, Humble ISD, Katy ISD, Klein ISD, Lamar CISD, Pasadena ISD, Spring ISD and Spring Branch ISD that includes the preferred learning method for nearly 550,000 students.

Overall, parents were split nearly evenly, with 51% choosing on-campus and 49% deciding on virtual learning.

But that changes when you filter the results for economically disadvantaged students, who qualify for free or reduced lunches. 47% of those students are on campus this fall, while 53% are

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Fairfax County families with special needs talk about students returning to the classroom

 Schools across our region are planning to slowly re-open. 

In Fairfax County, some of the first students who will be returning to the classroom later this fall will be students with special needs.

RELATED: Fairfax Co. Public Schools votes for some in-person learning for around 7,000 students

Brianne Russell-Morris’ daughter Elizabeth is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD.

“There are a lot of meltdowns that come out of the technology not working,” said Russell-Morris, who is a member of Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia. “[Elizabeth] wants to be independent, but I will see her kind of staring off into space and not really following along with what she is supposed to be doing.”

The Fairfax County School Board approved a plan to phase-in classroom instruction for 3.5% of the FCPS student body, or more than 6.700 students, who are experiencing more challenges with distance learning.

You can

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Battle Ground schools Parent Academy helps families navigate kids’ virtual learning

Cassondra Smith’s office looks more like a semi-pro film studio these days, complete with a glowing ring light and heavy-duty microphone.

The Vancouver woman is an educational technology coach for Battle Ground Public Schools, a job whose pandemic purpose is evident in her title. Usually, Smith is working to help teachers navigate their classroom websites and digital assignments. In this time of virtual learning from home, she’s busier than ever.

“With distance learning it is very challenging trying to get students to access their assignments, to connect with their teachers,” Smith said. “Things are just brand new right now.”

For frazzled families, there can be no greater barrier to virtual learning than connecting to classes. It’s why Battle Ground Public Schools launched its Parent Academy program this school year, giving parents class work of their own to help them navigate virtual learning.

Smith is among those teachers spending a few

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Maine Dept. of Education launches online learning platform ‘MOOSE’ for teachers, students, and families

The platform is open access and does not require users to register.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Education announced Tuesday the official launch of MOOSE (Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education), which is intended to be a learning platform for teachers, students, and families across Maine. MOOSE is now live and available as a resource to anyone who is interested.

MOOSE features an online library of asynchronous, interdisciplinary, project-based modules aligned to the Maine Learning Results for grades PK-12. Over the summer, more than 200 Maine educators from across the state developed nearly 100 modules to populate the first quarter of content.

Embedded in the modules are elements of social, emotional, and behavioral learning as well as considerations for all learning styles. It is not a curriculum, but a library to choose from, based on interests, content standards, or topics. MOOSE was designed as an optional, educational resource

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Remote learning not the best fit for special education, but teachers, families doing their best | Local

“They’re all over the place,” Hammond said of their response to remote learning, explaining how difficult it has been for them to stay engaged with an iPad for hours at a time. “To them, computers are for computer games, video games, that kind of stuff. They just don’t have that concept of, ‘This [device] is for school.’”

Hammond said she is concerned these young students are moving backward educationally and has been noticing some startling behavioral changes.

“My third-grader, he has more meltdowns. He is exhausted. He tells me that his eyes hurt and he’s had more headaches. The other two are more rowdy, more rambunctious. They get more argumentative,” she said. “All the things that you hear about kids that have tons of screen time, we deal with all of that, on top of the fact that kids are cooped up in the house all the time. They’re not

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Online learning presents new challenges for families

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — As the education system in Utah navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, the first month of online learning has been a challenge for some students and parents.

“I just don’t like the experience,” said 8th grade student Rohan Kahkural. “The way I am able to encounter my teachers, talk to them — it’s kind of hard getting to know them. I have no connection with my teachers. I just see their face, but I don’t know who they are really.”

Rohan began the year doing online learning at his school. His sister is also learning from home.

“Most kids say they don’t want to learn online because they learn from real school and I say that’s really true,” Parish Kahkural said. The 4th grade student feels her education isn’t progressing like it was prior to the onset of the pandemic.

“You learn a lot more

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Iowa City families find online learning help, child care in nonprofit’s ‘nests’

IOWA CITY — While Kevyn Doningueiz, 11, a sixth-grader at Mark Twain Elementary, focuses on his virtual learning, his younger siblings get help from volunteers who can teach them how to use the computer and access online classes — thanks to Neighborhood NESTS.

The Neighborhood NESTS — Nurturing Every Student Together Safely — is organized and operated by local not-for-profit groups for students in the Iowa City Community School District to access free Wi-Fi and get technical and academic support from volunteers, and for families to receive some child care services.

Doningueiz has been attending a Neighborhood NESTS operated by Open Heartland, a not-for-profit serving families in five mobile home communities in Johnson County whose residents are mainly Hispanic immigrants.

When Iowa City schools announced a virtual start to the school year, Open Heartland pivoted its mission to open a nest.

The organization was founded just last year and visited

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Unique challenges: Special education was difficult for families in the spring. Will this fall be better? | Local Education

Leani Tell is starting kindergarten this year.

Like thousands of her peers, she’s doing so from home. Unlike most of them, she would have been at home even without the pandemic that will keep Madison Metropolitan School District buildings mostly closed through at least Oct. 31.

Leani, 4, has spinal muscular atrophy, which causes symptoms similar to those that ALS causes in adults. It also means she is especially susceptible to respiratory infections, with even colds sending her to the hospital for days.

“I didn’t really care a whole lot if kids were going back to school or not because she was never going to be going in-person,” said her mother, Nichole Fritts. “She was always going to be virtual because of her health status.”

But the pandemic is hurting Leani’s education anyway, as the school district is not providing an in-person educational aide as outlined in her Individualized Education

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‘A heavy burden:’ Greenwich special education families feel ‘overlooked’ in opening days

GREENWICH — Just days into the new school year, some special education parents say they are concerned about services offered to remote students and what they call a general lack of communication from the school district.

Some parents spoke out at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, expressing that they felt “overlooked” and that their special education children were an afterthought. On Friday, the head of the teachers union in the Greenwich Public Schools called a recent change in special education staffing a “head-scratcher.”

“Currently, I am inundated with text messages and emails from special education families,” said Caroline Lerum, PTA Council chairperson for special education. “A concerning amount of remote families across the district are frustrated because of changes that occurred after school began.”

Primarily, special education parents were alarmed to learn after the new year began that there would not be a remote teacher assigned to each special education

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Greenwich nonprofit offers grants to help special education families

GREENWICH — A Greenwich-based legal services nonprofit is accepting applications for grants to provide families of special education students with access to qualified attorneys.

The Special Education Legal Fund Inc. announced Monday that it would award grants of up to $5,000 for qualified families living in Connecticut or Westchester County, N.Y., for its Legal Assistance Program.

“Special Education Legal Fund (S.E.L.F.) provides resources and knowledge to families in need to promote full advocacy for children in the special education system,” a statement from the group said.

“Although a free and appropriate public education is a right guaranteed to all students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the realities of special education in the U.S. can be quite different,” the group says on

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