DuBOIS — DuBois Area School District Superintendent Wendy Benton, at last week’s virtual board meeting, announced that she is “beyond proud” that the district will be able to provide 180 days of instruction to their students for the 2019-20 school year despite the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. “Online learning has been a tremendous undertaking for everyone in our school district,” said Benton. “To date, we have deployed 1,498 Chromebooks and provided a hotspot for internet capabilities in 296 homes. From there, it took a concerted effort from every person in our school district to support our efforts to educate the students in our community as a result of the extended school closure. Our daily attendance continues to exceed 90 percent participation with some schools close to 100 percent daily participation.” Over the past 40 days of online learning, Benton said the district made many adjustments to meet the needs of the students as they all transitioned to online learning. “Although we can never replicate the same educational experience through an online learning platform, we have served our students very well,” she said. “Our success can be attributed to every child and every adult that supported our efforts to educate. With only 10 days remaining, we can begin summer vacation at noon on June 1 knowing that our students have acquired a full year of learning despite a national pandemic. Our entire community can be very proud of that.” Through countless hours of time, research and creative application, Benton said the teachers continue to master the niceties of online learning. “They (teachers) have worked incredibly hard to simplify the delivery of lessons, streamline the organization of assignments, developed interactive and engaging lessons and they have provided time for students to engage in social interaction to name a few of our greatest successes,” she said. “It’s rewarding to have a principal call to tell me about a great lesson they observed virtually or to share a new interactive lesson that was just presented to our students. This experience, although challenging, has definitely strengthened our team and has helped to prepared us for the 2020-2021 school year.” Benton also expressed appreciation to the district’s food service department, as well as to the volunteers in the community who continue to deliver meals to children — “five days a week, just out of the goodness of their hearts.” “Yesterday we served 880 students, and today we served 902,” said Benton. “Our needs are growing by the day, and we could not do what we are doing without the support of our community. We just have so many people, you know, it’s not that we asked them, like they just come to us and say, this is what I want to do. ‘I want to help, I want to donate, I want to volunteer.’ And it’s just really strengthened our team and the resources that we’re able to provide for our communities. So we’re so grateful for that.” Preparation for end-of-the-year ceremonies for seniors is also going “exceptionally well,” said Benton. “I know it is not what anyone had asked for, or intended to have happen, but I can tell you that this team is doing everything that they can to make these ceremonies very special for our students,” said Benton. Over the weekend, seniors were being recorded for the upcoming virtual graduation ceremony to be held May 29. Benton thanked all of those involved for making it happen. “They will spend more than 20 hours this weekend just recording our seniors, so that they can walk and pick up their diploma,” said Benton. “And I just think is exceptional, and just such a heartfelt gesture.”
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