Last week, every student of Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) was issued a shiny new Chromebook laptop computer, another giant step in overcoming the challenges that began in March when classrooms were forced to close due to the pandemic.
The new Chromebooks are equipped with Google Classroom as their virtual class, providing students and instructors with a paperless educational platform for students returning to the classroom and those “virtual learners” who continue to study from home. During their assigned times, all students can participate together with their classmates as if they all are in the classroom together.
Back in April and May, administrators, staff and faculty scurried to patch together creative learning platforms that included Zoom Video Conferencing and Go-Guardian to conduct their lessons for students. Some of the challenges involved keeping students on task to ensure they were performing assignments necessary to complete the Spring Semester of the 2019-2020 school year.
Additional challenges surrounded the impact of school closures on families, especially the need for a wage-earning parent to be home to supervise children and ensure they stayed focused on their studies. Nutritional needs of the children, which in a high percentage of cases had been met by the school districts, were also a big concern. In Collier County alone, 66% of students were enrolled in the free or reduced–price lunch program. Creative approaches to include providing drive-through lunch distribution followed.
Margo Heidenreich, one of the school’s Assistant Principals, met parents and students on Monday afternoon as they arrived to check out and sign for the new laptops. “This really is quite a transition for both the student and faculty as it begins the evolution from the world of paper to paperless. It’s the end of an era. No one can complain their dog ate their homework,” Heidenreich said with a laugh and smile. “All of us here are very excited and the kids seem very eager to take up the challenge of change that this represents.”
Tarik Ayasun, MICMS Board President, when viewing the devices and hearing of the advantages to both students and faculty, said “This is a wonderful addition to the tools available to our faculty, students and their parents. The work done to leverage a Cares Act Grant, which has made this possible speaks to the wonderful dedication of staff and faculty at our school.”
Teachers will be able to upload assignments, monitor classwork and communicate with both the student and parents. Due dates for assignments, as well as other important announcements, also will be found there.