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Virtual Learning Continues With “Online Table” Tutoring

STUDENT PACKETS PROVIDE PICK-ME-UP FOR STAFF

Students and tutors last set foot in Seeds of Literacy classrooms more than 7 weeks ago, not knowing how long it would be before they’d see one another again.

That day recently arrived in the form of a carefully orchestrated Packet Pick-Up Day. Although the curriculum was digitized to allow for tutoring by phone and video, the preference for paper was clear from the start.   

The Packet Pick-Up Day required an abundance of caution. To ensure student visits to the building were staggered, each had to request specific coursework in advance and make an appointment. Requested packets were then prepared, sealed, and stacked — ready for distribution.

Maintaining a social distance, separated by glass windows, masked staff members passed packets of coursework to more than 50 masked students.

Despite the face coverings, the smiles were obvious.

“The hardest part of this has been not seeing everyone,” Site Coordinator Kara Krawiec said. “And it’s been even more difficult not knowing WHEN we would again.”

Cautionary instructions were sent out in advance. “I miss everyone so much,” she wrote in email to students just days before. “But this isn’t social hour. It just can’t be no matter how much I wish it was.”

CLOSURE EXTENDED, OPPORTUNITIES CREATED

The Packet-Pick-Up Day was organized following the announcement that Seeds of Literacy classrooms would remain closed through June.  

“It was an incredibly difficult and painful decision to make,” said President & CEO Bonnie Entler. “But many of our students and volunteers fall into the at-risk categories and our classrooms are set up for close, one-to-one tutoring. Everything will need to be reconfigured to allow for social distancing…and until it is, I won’t risk the health and safety of anyone.”

The reopening delay allows for more than moving the furniture.  It also encourages students to adapt to — and fully accept — the importance of digital literacy.

During the COVID-19 closure, Seeds launched hourly telephone tutoring and live video lessons. Live lessons were also recorded and placed on the website for viewing at any time.

“Live video lessons allowed for visual interaction, but we kept hearing from students who had questions about their individual work,” said VP of Programming, Dr. Carmine Stewart. “They were interested in live video, but not the particular lesson.”

The response to Packet Pick-Up Day only confirmed the need for additional offerings.

“We’re pleased to announce table sessions,” Stewart said. “Everyone on the video conference will work on the same general subject independently. If they have a question, the tutor is there at the virtual table to assist. Just like the classroom.”

The response to table sessions is expected to exceed the growing interest in both video lessons and telephone tutoring.

“I’m really glad you guys are doing this,” one student said. “I couldn’t wait three more months (or however long) to start studying again.”

# # # KLK