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Swedesboro-Woolrich schools get creative with COVID-19 teaching options

Swedesboro-Woolrich schools get creative with COVID-19 teaching options

School is in session at Swedesboro-Woolwich School District, but it looks a little different this year. From masks and shields to plexiglass barriers, teachers are still finding a way to do their job, even under the strangest circumstances during COVID-19.

As a school year like no other, teachers and staff are developing creative ways to teach and provide support for the academic and emotional needs of children returning to school, physically or virtually.

The district welcomed back students on Sept. 8, offering hybrid or distance learning models for socially distanced in-classroom and remote online computer teaching sessions.

“SWSD teachers are doing a great job creating small-group connections,” said superintendent Kristin O’ Neil. “If you’ve got teachers who deliver exciting content, they can deliver it face-to-face or remotely.”

Among the approaches being taken, Margaret Clifford School teacher Jessie Deopp is using a green screen to turn a lesson that transports her students to a virtual farm.

Kelly Woronicak, a teacher from Walter Hill School, is highlighting a student from her virtual classes each week. The student edits a google slide with information about themselves that then is posted on Woronicak’s Google Classroom for the whole class to see.

Walter Hill School teacher Kelly Pollitt is offering a “Homework Help” club twice a week with an ELA and a math teacher on hand to help. Students can join via Google Meets.

Maria Sohn, a technology teacher at Stratton, helped parents adjust to virtual learning through eight live training sessions in September. These sessions included how to navigate through Google Classroom, how to attach a file to Google Classroom, and how to use Google Meets for virtual instructional sessions.

Sohn also has a blog where she shares videos and tutorials for parents and guardians of students.

As it continues the in-person and hybrid

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State and city leaders blame social gatherings, not businesses or schools, for coronavirus uptick in New London

State and city leaders blame social gatherings, not businesses or schools, for coronavirus uptick in New London

Connecticut and local officials said Monday that the recent uptick in coronavirus cases in New London can be traced back to a series of social gatherings and other small social interactions — not to local school or business reopenings, or to the nearby casinos.

“We’re being told by the contact tracers that it’s not coming from any institutional or business setting, it’s coming predominantly from social spread … where people are letting their guard down,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero.

He pointed to situations — such as small family gatherings that are well within the state limits on gathering size — where people may feel relaxed enough that they remove their masks or sit nearby one another. But COVID-19 can still spread, even among a small group of people and even from people who aren’t displaying any symptoms.

“The institutional environments — nursing homes, schools, even the casino — they have these strict protocols in place, people are less likely to let their guard down,” Passero said. “So where it’s spreading now is where people are more likely to be relaxed and let their guard down.”

The state issued a COVID-19 alert for New London on Thursday, after a steep increase in cases in the city. New London and the surrounding areas saw relatively few cases in the spring, and by Sept. 25 New London had recorded a total of 229 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March. But from Sept. 25 to Oct. 9, New London’s cases jumped up to 368 — an increase of 139 in just two weeks.

The reported cause of the New London uptick align with comments made by Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, during a visit to UConn’s Hartford campus last week.

“This is really

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Study: Closing UK schools leads to more deaths in lockdown

Study: Closing UK schools leads to more deaths in lockdown

  • A new paper has said that closing UK schools during lockdown led to more COVID-19 deaths than if they had stayed open.
  • The paper, by Professor Graeme Ackland, was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday and is a re-analysis of a model published by Imperial College London in March.
  • The Imperial model prompted the UK to enforce a lockdown, in line with many other countries facing outbreaks.
  • But, Ackland argues, some of its provisions were counter-productive. He claims that closings schools and universities in particular likely led to “more deaths compared with the equivalent scenario without the closures.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A new scientific paper claims that the UK’s decision to close schools and universities in March as part of its lockdown strategy resulted in more COVID-19 deaths than if they stayed open.

The peer-reviewed paper, was written by Graeme Ackland, professor of computer simulation at The University of Edinburgh, was published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.

It is a re-analysis of a model published by Imperial College London on March 16.

The Imperial model was hugely significant. It prompted the UK government to abandon its strategy of herd immunity, and impose a series of lockdown measures, including the closure of schools. The paper warned the UK was set for 510,000 deaths in the absence of such action.

In the course of 10 simulations, Ackland said the addition of school closures to other lockdown variables increased the number of deaths.

His argument is that mitigation strategies should focus on keeping the virus from older, more vulnerable people, and not on preventing the spread in settings where most people are young.

FILE PHOTO: Parents walk their children to school on the last day before their official closure, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in West London, Britain, March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Parents walk their children to school in West London on March 20, 2020.


“Adding school and university closures to case isolation,

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Adjusting the toolbox: Vocational schools craft creative ways to keep students engaged during pandemic

Adjusting the toolbox: Vocational schools craft creative ways to keep students engaged during pandemic

“Career and technical education is by its very nature hands-on,” said Edward Bouquillon, superintendent of Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School, located on the Lexington/Lincoln line. “So we have to have kids in their shop or laboratory environment.”

Recognizing the importance of in-person instruction, many of the state’s regional vocational schools have found ways to offer students at least some in-school time for their shop programs, and in some cases for academic classes. The situation is in contrast to last spring, where the pandemic forced vocational and all other schools to switch entirely to at-home remote learning.

Massachusetts has 26 regional vocational schools. Vocational programs also are offered at about 30 comprehensive high schools.

At Blue Hills, officials have devised a schedule for prioritizing in-school learning for its shop courses, which — as is typical with vocational schools — are held in alternating weeks with academic classes. Students this fall have two in-school days every shop week. Their other vocational classes and all academic classes are taken virtually at home.

Officials said the plan provides students in all four grades some in-person vocational instruction while also enabling the school to operate at 25 percent enrollment capacity — one quarter of the student body attending in person on any one school day —which is necessary to meet social distancing guidelines.

Christopher Alcimbert at his cosmetology class at  Blue Hills Regional Technical School.
Christopher Alcimbert at his cosmetology class at Blue Hills Regional Technical School. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

“Students really need the hands-on experience,” said Blue Hills Superintendent Jill Rossetti. “How could you hire someone who has never changed a tire but only read about it? How do you hire someone to use an acetylene torch who has only watched it demonstrated online?”

To make the plan work, the school is following such safety procedures as requiring students to wear masks, remain 6 feet

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Denver Public Schools (DPS) Awards Creative Learning Systems Their STEM Lab Contract

Denver Public Schools (DPS) Awards Creative Learning Systems Their STEM Lab Contract

LONGMONT, Colo., Oct. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Creative Learning Systems (CLS), the pioneer in comprehensive K–12 STEM solutions and developer of the nationally known SmartLab® Learning program, announced today that Denver Public Schools (DPS) has awarded them the contract to provide turnkey, comprehensive STEM labs for grades ECE–12 throughout the district.

Denver Public Schools awards Creative Learning Systems their STEM Lab Contract

“I’ve had the privilege of working with DPS school and district administrators and educators, the DPS Education Foundation, and their funders for many years,” explains Jeanne Timmons, Creative Learning Systems’ Regional Sales Manager. “We are honored that DPS has chosen to continue our work together toward a fully articulated ECE–12 STEM program for their students.” To date, the Colorado-based company has helped implement more than two dozen STEM SmartLab Learning environments in 22 schools across the district.

SmartLabs are fully articulated, K–12 STEM solutions that empower students to explore robotics, software engineering, mechanics and structures, circuitry, scientific data and analysis, alternative energy, computer graphics, and digital media arts. The comprehensive SmartLab solutions are carefully designed and provisioned for each grade level. Every program element—technology, classroom design, construction kits, curriculum, scope and sequence, professional development, and ongoing support—work together to meet students where they are and take them as far as they are able. As Susana Cordova, DPS Superintendent, explained speaking at a ribbon cutting for the Montbello campus in 2019, “SmartLabs level the playing field for all students.”

Creative Learning Systems’ more than 30 years of experience developing innovative turnkey learning solutions contributed to their selection. But their new solution for Chromebook users became a defining point.

“There’s also the technology side of programs like this we need to keep in mind,” explains Zane Umberger, System Administrator for DPS. “We challenged CLS to come up with a more mobile, Chromebook version of

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