Ocean Springs transitions to online learning in wake of COVID-19 closures

Ocean Springs transitions to online learning in wake of COVID-19 closures

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - Students in South Mississippi are getting accustomed to the new normal of online learning.

Ocean Springs is one of the top school districts in the state and, like other districts, have shifted to an online education platform in order to continue educating as COVID-19 continues to spread.

“We are moving the OS school district to a virtual platform," explained Superintendent Bonita Coleman. “We have been telling everyone school is not out. We understand that our schools have to close because of this pandemic crisis that we are all going through right now."

While the schools are closed, the learning will continue. The district even came up with a creative and safe way to distribute laptops to those who don’t have a device at home.

“Well they haven’t really come through the door," said Coleman. “We have been doing this as a drive through service today, just for sanitation reasons. But we have been talking to a lot of our parents through text messages and emails and parents are really grateful that we are continuing the educational environments for their students.”

Coleman admits that while some will have no problem with the new online learning environment, it will be a big change for others.

“Our high school students were really already very comfortable with these online platforms, as well as our high school teachers," said Coleman.

Magnolia Park Elementary Assistant Principal Ann-Marie Porter thinks the teachers will continue to step up and make the kids comfortable with the new environment.

“I think it has been really great," said Porter. “I think our teachers have done an excellent job communicating and I think that’s what most important right now, reaching out to the students and letting them know we’re still here and making them comfortable with the online platform.”

The lessons will be on a few different platforms. Both Zoom and Google Classroom will be used in some format. The lessons will also differ greatly depending on the age of the student, with more activities set to be given to younger students that are more accustomed to hands-on activities.

High schoolers picked up their laptops Monday. Middle schoolers and elementary school students will pick up their laptops before the week is out.

Laptops were distributed to families who didn’t have a device for students to complete lessons and assignments at home.

Last week, WLOX News reported three Ocean Springs students had been exposed -- but not diagnosed with -- coronavirus.

The district sent out letters to all the students parents letting them know about the exposure. Superintendent Bonita Coleman stresses that the school has taken every precaution, including disinfecting schools routinely.

For more information on other measures the district is taking to keep students safe and learning, the district has set up a Health Alerts Portal on its website to disseminate information and keep parents updated.

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