Kings Canyon Unified taking extra steps for positive distance learning experience

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- High schools in the Kings Canyon Unified School District started classes last week, but Kindergarten through 8th-grade students were ready to take on the challenge of distance learning this week.

It certainly felt like the first day of school at Sheridan Elementary School in Orange Cove.

District spokesperson Renee Delport explained, "Kids are incredibly excited in their new school clothes. You would think that it was the first day of school for a lot of them. The excitement. Parents taking first day of school pictures."

Kids and their parents were actually just on campus to learn how to use their Chromebooks for remote learning. Administrators wanted to make sure students could log in and find their classes without any problem.

But the students also got a chance to meet their new teachers.

Delport said, "We felt that connection is important to a lot of our students. That not only did we want them to meet and see their teacher obviously through a Zoom session, but we feel that live in-person meeting is important as well."

Biology teacher Pablo Saenz at Orange Cove High School excitedly shared a lesson on a Zoom call with his students.

Keeping kids engaged may become a constant challenge around the Valley.

At the Kindergarten through 8th grade level in Kings Canyon Unified, college students serving as tutors will join the online classes.

District Curriculum Coordinator Eddie Nolan said, "We really feel like it's going to be a game-changer. One of the things is not being able to interact on a daily basis with their teachers. This is just one way we can fill that gap."

The district's after-school program has provided mentors for kids in Orange Cove. Hiring college-age students as tutors was something parents requested. They'll be on call from 3 pm-9 pm for the kids and parents.

Nolan said, "Not only will they be familiar with the curriculum, but they'll also be familiar with how the teacher taught it so they can better support those students and families when it's convenient for them after a long day's work or having a meal with their family."

Tutors will be available in each subject throughout Kings Canyon Unified. The official first day of school for K-8 students was set for Thursday.
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