Port Neches-Groves details online switch if campuses don’t open next week

Published 3:59 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

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PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves Independent School District is making moves to put an e-learning educational system in place, should the consequences of the spreading coronavirus impact the district beyond this week.

District officials chose late Sunday to extend Spring Break through March 23 to allow students and staff time to self-quarantine after individual travels and activities.

However, officials are preparing for the worst by rolling out a “learning through home” program in the event that campus return is extended.

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Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier outlined the potential package Monday at a school board meeting.

“This is our district plan to provide instructional support to students through families at home,” she said. “Every student at PNGISD will have access to an education at home during this time period. That is our goal.”

The learning through home program includes the continuation of student education by using online programs such as Google Classroom.

This type of format asks all administration, staff and students to work from home with teachers preparing 20-30 minute lessons per a day depending on the student’s age and content area.

The program will not include teaching new skills, but focus on review curriculum.

No grades will be taken at this time. Work will be due by the end of each week on Friday at 3 p.m. Students who complete their work will be marked present. Those who do not will be marked absent.

“It will be a very different environment,” Gauthier said. “STAAR testing is gone, so that weight is off of us. All we are asking is for parents to engage with their kids at home, confirm that they’ve engaged with them and complete assignments by the end of the week.”

Teachers will have scheduled office hours and be available on call, in front of their computers from 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. every day.

Families that do not have access to Internet, a computer, phone or tablet will be give paper copies of all assignments.

“We are going to do everything we can,” Gauthier said. “If we have to drop the assignments off door-to-door, we will.”

The district will also provide a pick-up breakfast and pick-up lunch options for students in need of food. Details are still in discussion.

“This is all very fluid,” Superintendent Mike Gonzales said. “This is something new to us and a term we all need to remember is that it is called a ‘good faith effort.’ Our district is making a good faith effort to provide some type of educational continuity.”

PNG School Board President Scott Bartlett said he believes the community is in good hands with the new program.

“I feel like our administrators are doing a great job,” he said. “They have kept us informed, and with that information we are supporting them and giving them our ideas.”

Bartlett said he wants the community to reach out to their local school board members for more information, questions or concerns.

“The community has chosen us to represent them,” he said. “In times like this, we appreciate their concerns, we want to hear their concerns and we want to hear their praises. That way we can convey it to our administrators and decisions can be made collaboratively to move forward.

“We encourage the public to reach out to their board members because we need to hear the feedback. We are here to represent them and we want to do the best job we can.”

If for any reason PNGISD is not to return to campus Monday, the new e-learning system will begin in its place.