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Students lean into distance learning at Portola High

By Lauren Westmoreland

Students at Portola Junior/Senior High School are following their new virtual schedules from their homes as of Tuesday, March 24, after a flurry of activity and innovation from educators brings the school online to comply with current quarantine orders and school closures in California related to Covid-19. Chart courtesy of Portola Junior/Senior High School

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Schools around the state have risen to the challenge of educating students long-distance due to school closures in an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Portola Junior/Senior High School has rallied to meet the moment.

“The teachers are working remotely,” said Principal Sara Sheridan. “The teachers have all been so positive, with really upbeat energy despite the nearly daily changes.”

Sheridan explained that teachers were working to create a variety of learning options for students to utilize from their homes during this time when all in the state are being asked to shelter in place.

“We are working to keep the kids engaged, and stay connected, with the use of Zoom video conferencing for meetings and other platforms online, such as Google Classrooms,” Sheridan said.

For students that don’t have home internet access, Sheridan added that there are print materials available by request.

The school started the new style of learning Tuesday, March 24, with many PJSHS students working from home learning stations on laptop computers. All students were asked to behave as they would in the classroom while engaged in online Zoom meetings, choosing locations wisely, dressing appropriately, and keeping conversations, including those in the chat feature, on topic.

Students were given a virtual class schedule to follow, to keep things as organized as possible, with each student following their regular class schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning with first period.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are designated days for students to work on assignments and for teachers to prepare lessons and hold office hours. During those designated office hours, teachers will be available to provide additional support to those students that request it.

“The new way of conducting school is going to be a challenge for all of us, but I know that we can make it work,” Sheridan said. “There are going to be many questions as we get our new system off the ground, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to your teachers as needed.”

Students have had a variety of responses to the change, according to parents, and it has been a learning curve for the many families learning to use the new system. “We know that social distancing is difficult for our teens, but it is crucial that they follow the guidelines and stay home to slow the spread of this virus. The sacrifices that we are making now are critical to save the lives of many, including those closest to us,” Sheridan emphasized.

“I am very impressed and appreciative of the school administration and teachers for getting this new way of learning together so fast,” said one parent of two PJSHS students, Kim Wilmer.

“It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, and there are some kinks that will need to be worked out, but we will get there!”

For more information, call 832-4284 or email Sheridan at [email protected].

Hard copy packets are available upon request by calling PJSHS Secretary Laury Riggins in the front office at 832-4284 ext. 4001.



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