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Teachers reach out to students, on-line and on the road

A first-grader waved to his teacher, LAW teacher Jennifer Silva, as she slowly passed his home recently in a choreographed drive-by that included most of the students in her classroom, in town and beyond.
A first-grader waved to his teacher, LAW teacher Jennifer Silva, as she slowly passed his home recently in a choreographed drive-by that included most of the students in her classroom, in town and beyond.
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SHIRLEY – Like public and private schools across the state and the nation, students in the Ayer Shirley Regional School District have had their routines derailed and re-routed by the coronavirus pandemic. And it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.

With schools closed and extra curriculars suspended, the new order centers on remote learning, on-line assignments and home-based activities.

Superintendent Mary Malone has been sending timely, on-line updates to the ASRSD community.

She recently shared a letter from the state’s education commissioner, Jeffrey Riley, that provides guidance, casting every aspect of the way things used to be in a new light.

Launching his letter with the governor’s order on March 25 that schools must stay closed until Monday, May 4, Commissioner Riley highlights steps educators can take “in the interim.”

Targeting a range of categories and resources, the letter featured a to-do list and “remote learning tools” teachers can access, using technology, to connect with students, including projects and reading lists.

For families, back yard field trips, nature walks and related learning activities.

“We are committed to maintaining connections between school staff and students…and helping all students continue their learning,” Riley wrote.

ASRSD teachers are already on board.

Tuesday morning, for example, Lura A. White first grade teacher Jennifer Silva convened her class for a brief on-line lesson using the audio-visual “Zoom” platform for virtual meetings.

She read a story to the class, called on them, individually, and assigned follow-up based on the story. It was part of a series of on-line lessons she’d sketched out for families ahead of time.

In a district-wide effort, other K-12 teachers have implemented long-distance lesson plans as well.

Last week, Mrs. Silva reached out on a personal level when she choreographed a drive-by past her students’ homes, waving cheerily and calling them by name from her slow-moving vehicle as she advanced along her route and the kids enthusiastically waved and hollered “hi” back, from a distance.

In these times of shuttered schools and “social distancing,” it was a creative alternative that meant a lot.

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