Local school districts considering e-learning options due to coronavirus

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ST. LOUIS - The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

Several area universities closed their classrooms and now look toward e-learning as an option. Grade schools are considering this option, too.

School district representatives said they are in the beginning stages of coming up with a plan to pull out computers in the case that coronavirus concerns continue to escalate. One school told FOX 2 they are already ahead of the curve.

Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo has already taken instruction from the dry erase board to the keyboard.  

“We were the first in the country to really explore this,” said Steve Kidd, principal of Gibault Catholic High School. 

In an effort to eliminate snow days, they evolved an online learning system called “Schoology” where education and interaction continue from home.

“The students will tell us the learning days are always as involved or more involved,” Kidd said.

As coronavirus concerns and uncertainty mounts, Parkway, Hazelwood, Riverview Gardens, Lindberg, and Ladue school districts said they are having conversations about implementing a backup plan.

 “Just this week, I was in contact with the school in St. Louis who is really interested in how we use our management system,” said Kara Hoke, the director of enrollment and a teacher at Gibault.

Many of them are now investigating how many of their students have access to the internet and technology.

Gibault school officials said it took some time to get their online education moving smoothly, but it’s possible for other schools to get something off the ground.

“I think that quickly you could develop something it did take a few years,” Hoke said.  

Over at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, classes are already canceled for the rest of the week.

This is after the school learned a sibling of the woman with the first case of COVID-19 in Missouri attends their school.

School officials there said teachers are providing e-learning to 7-12th graders, so students will learn remotely.

It’s a fluid situation that school officials are looking to one another to navigate through.

“It’s really an hour by hour, day by day thing,” Kidd said. “I feel like since it’s such a new thing, you don’t want to overreact, and you don’t want to under-react.”  

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