From school closures to event cancellations to shelter-in-place, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced many changes across the nation. But Garland ISD’s commitment to student success remains the same. The district is united behind one goal of ensuring all students graduate prepared for college, careers and life. For this reason, GISD launched its at-home learning website March 16.
This site is a collaboration between teachers, administrators and many others who gave up their Spring Break once they learned the district would not reopen the following week. Designing activities and lessons for families to continue learning at home, the content is grouped by both grade levels and subjects. The site also includes counseling services as well as parent and teacher resources.
"Our first goal when developing our at-home learning site was to provide our families with immediate access to grade-level appropriate resources for their students," said Director of Teaching and Learning Development Melissa Hill. "It was really important that our families knew that keeping students at home did not mean that parents had to be responsible for writing lesson plans or finding resources and activities."
One week after launching, GISD initiated virtual classrooms and settled into its new normal. Using Seesaw and Google applications for remote learning, teachers connect with families each week to not only deliver instruction, but to assess social, emotional and physical needs as well. And, GISD Counseling is still just one click away.
"The site became a place for everything a parent might need to know when supporting their student at home. Academics are one part, but there is also virtual counseling resources for emotional health," Hill explained. "We also included resources for our students in special education and those receiving dyslexia services. We made a decision to have all our materials open source so they could be accessible to anyone who needed them."
Since March 16, the district’s at-home learning website has been accessed by more than 86,725 users spanning all 50 states and 58 countries. GISD has also been looked to as an example as other districts navigate their own virtual education.
“Our impact has been reaching every facet of this world. It’s humbling,” said Superintendent Ricardo López. “The Texas Commissioner of Education even invited us to highlight our eLearning framework during a meeting of superintendents, state legislators and other high-ranking officials. I was getting texts that people were so impressed by what we were doing, and when we were finished, our great Commissioner started breaking out in the Garland High School alma mater. The love of GISD is felt throughout our nation. There are so many district graduates tuning in and looking to us for support. We’re here to work hand in hand with everyone. So, be very proud of the frameworks that are happening. They represent armies of people getting together to do everything possible for the children of Garland ISD.”