Modified remote learning lets students gather in Lakota makeshift libraries during COVID

A new program addition to Lakota Schools' Virtual Learning Option (VLO) remote learning is allowing students to interact in person this school year through visits to make-shift libraries in the district's two high schools. There are currently 365 VLO students in the 17,000-student school system whose parents signed up for at-home learning in part due to concerns over the coronavirus. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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A new program addition to Lakota Schools' Virtual Learning Option (VLO) remote learning is allowing students to interact in person this school year through visits to make-shift libraries in the district's two high schools. There are currently 365 VLO students in the 17,000-student school system whose parents signed up for at-home learning in part due to concerns over the coronavirus. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Hundreds of Lakota school parents decided to keep their children in the district’s virtual, home-learning program for this second, full school year of the coronavirus pandemic but there is a new feature this time around – in-person get togethers in a library setting.

Lakota Schools’ Virtual Learning Option enrolls 365 students in grades K-12 of the district’s 17,000 total students.

Because VLO teachers don’t have a physical library, both Lakota East and Lakota West high schools have set aside a classroom for VLO teachers and students to use this year.

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The converted classrooms, which VLO teachers schedule for their students, are hybrid learning spaces – part classroom, part library – part interactive socializing rooms designed to keep students remotely learning from home during the pandemic connected with classmates.

Students come together while wearing masks and practicing social distancing to lessen the chances of contracting or spreading COVID.

It’s been an important change, said VLO second-grade teacher Charlotte Elia.

Last school year VLO students were restricted to only digital learning in their homes.

Elia said the new, periodic gatherings “is one of the highlights” for this year’s second-graders in her remote class.

The library option of browsing the mini book collections in the VLO high school classroom is especially important, she said.

“They get to look through all of the books and feel them and look at topics they like and have conversations with the teacher about them. As much as I love the virtual option, reading a book on a (computer) screen is not the best option for all kids.”

Parents transport their students to the libraries at Lakota East and Lakota West.

Katie Duh of West Chester Twp. who has two children in the VLO program describes the library option as “great.”

“As a parent I love the opportunity … to go into a building to see the teacher and to see some of the other kids and get to do some activities together with classmates.”

“I love the flexibility of VLO at home but you miss some of that social piece of interacting with classmates and your teacher more in person so I love that this gives an opportunity to get the social interactions that would normally come in an in-person classroom,” she said.

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