LIVINGSTON, NJ — As Livingston Public Schools (LPS) officially transitioned to its newly developed Remote Learning Plan (RLP) on Monday amid the global health crisis, Livingston students, parents, teachers and administrators have reported positive feedback after the first day despite some technological setbacks.
Aditya Desai, a junior at Livingston High School (LHS), expressed that day one overall was “a collaborative transition from the conventional classroom environment.”
“Yes, there were certainly technical glitches, errors and miscommunication in the process of hosting classes remotely,” said Desai. “But, more importantly, members of the LHS student body were there for one another—offering guidance, assistance and specific advice to facilitate a swift transition to online classrooms.”
As the district continues forward with this new method of instruction across all grade levels, Desai suggested that both teachers and students “remain open to using a variety a video chat and communication platforms.”
“For example, many of my teachers today had difficulty accessing the conference video-call feature in Schoology, which is Livingston's centralized academic platform,” he said. “In place of sticking to Schoology, switching to other services like Google Meet and Zoom would enable teachers and students to continue the learning process.”
Livingston Board of Education members Samantha Messer and Seth Cohen, who both have students enrolled at LPS, were also enthusiastic about the first day.
Cohen, who has an 11-year-old son at Mt. Pleasant Middle School (MPMS) as well as a one-year-old daughter to supervise as he works from home over the next few weeks, said that there was a learning curve, as expected, but that his son’s first day “went pretty smoothly” otherwise
“With how integrated the technology like Schoology and Google Classroom are normally, it made things pretty easy for him,” said Cohen. “The thing I really appreciated seeing was how the teachers kept the kids engaged. [My son] sent a couple of questions to his teachers today, and they got right back to him, which made for a great learning experience.
“Also, it was great how well everyone tried to keep the culture of MPMS going throughout the day. It started with a morning message from the principal and continued with every class. The teachers really did an amazing job. (I had no doubt they would.)”
Messer, whose 4-year-old son, Max, is in the PRIDE program at Burnet Hill, and 6-year-old daughter attends Collins, agreed that the first day “was really strong.”
“Both my kids got their assignments and were excited for ‘school,’ said Messer. “Max loved seeing Ms. Jenkins’ video this morning and seeing the morning announcement with Mrs. Bright, and Andie’s face lit up when Mrs. Berrios called. They did their work and then did the yoga assignment from PRIDE.”
Fellow Collins mother Melissa Lerner, whose son, Dylan, is in second grade, said that the use of Google Classroom was “awesome for Dylan [and] his class.”
“He can see his whole class, and he can work independently," she said.
Cohen also offered advice to his fellow parents moving forward, suggesting that they “try to make the day as much like a day at school as possible.”
“For our son, we created structure similar to what he has at school,” said Cohen. “He knows his schedule; he knew when lunch was; he did not have access to things like his phone; and, most importantly, he knew what was expected of him and that he’d have plenty of free time when school was over.
“Of course, none of this can ever replace being in our classrooms, but the district did a great job of replicating it as best as possible.”
Remote learning has also been successful thus far elsewhere in Livingston, such as at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy on South Orange Avenue.
“Kushner's early childhood and lower school were amazing,” said Kushner parent Alexis Henslovitz. “They sent out a guideline schedule to use. They had Zoom davening (prayers) for each grade level at set times, and then each teacher had a daily assignment, from both Hebrew and General studies teachers with a video lesson. My second grader really had a full day.”
Livingston Superintendent of Schools stated that although the district could “never replicate the normal Livingston Public Schools experience remotely,” he is confident that “the standard of excellence that guides our work each day will continue to be apparent as we work through this challenge.” He encouraged parents, students and other community members to continue to communicate with the district to address any issues that may arise throughout the remote learning period.
“As with any new initiative, there will certainly be some hiccups,” said Block. “The success of our Remote Learning Experience truly relies on a strong partnership with our families. We are looking to the adults in our students’ lives to support the work of our teachers by helping to motivate, encourage and monitor their children’s learning on a daily basis.”
The superintendent recommended that all parents and guardians “establish a remote learning routine each day,” such as having a daily morning routine, a designated space for remote learning and minimal distractions during instructional periods. He stated that it is important to remember that “routines are always easiest to establish early on in the process.”
Block also stated that it is important to reiterate the need for everyone’s assistance in “making the mitigation of the virus a high priority.”
“Everyone is strongly encouraged to monitor information from local health agencies and community sources,” he said. “This includes making thoughtful choices about children’s social interactions outside of school. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are both recommending staying away from any large social gatherings.”
As a parent of two school-aged children, Block said he recognizes now more than ever the challenge of social distancing, but reiterated that all current information surrounding the global heath crisis “indicates that we must all be cognizant of who we come in contact with so that our mitigation efforts can be successful.”
“It is essential that we continue to work together and make thoughtful decisions to ensure that this physical time away from school will have its desired impact,” said Block.
More information about remote learning in Livingston, such as locations with free Wi-Fi Hotspots as well as useful information about Elementary Chromebooks, can be found BY CLICKING HERE.
The Livingston Board of Education meeting scheduled for Monday, March 16, 2020 has been cancelled, and the board will meet instead on Wednesday, March 18, at 6 p.m.
With consideration for the public during the current health crisis, the meeting will be opened to the public virtually via a livestream that will allow the public to watch the proceedings and ask questions. Specific instructions on how to access this meeting will be available at www.livingston.org by noon on Wednesday, March 18.