The Mequon-Thiensville School District moves to virtual learning in response to COVID-19


Submitted Photo

Katie Lennie, senior, completes her online classes at home on her laptop

This is an unprecedented time of uncertainty for schools across the nation as the number of coronavirus cases rise to new highs. In response to the governor Tony Evers enforcing a “stay and home” order, MTSD Superintendent Matthew Joynt moved the district to virtual learning until April 24.

Although much of the immediate future is unknown, Joynt remains determined to focus only on what he can control at this time.

“While not our preferred means of connecting with and educating our students, I am proud of the work our staff members have done to implement and support distance learning this week,” Joynt said.

As the evolving health crisis progresses, Joynt ensures his commitment to Mequon-Thiensville students and families. The district guarantees that they will promote personal growth within students, take advantage of new opportunities for learning and collaboration with families, provide open communication and updates for the community and embrace the challenge during this unpredictable period.

Virtual learning has been a new experience for teachers, too. Each class has a unique curriculum that must be altered in order to accommodate an online setting.

Dawn Pfaff, a science teacher at Homestead High School, teaches Wisconsin Ecology and Honors Biology this trimester. “This has been a challenge in both classes. Wisconsin Ecology is experiential based. We are hands on most days in the traditional set up. I have worked really hard to convert and create lessons that engage kids from home and implemented Work Outside Wednesday to help kids get fresh air,” Pfaff said.

Pfaff intends to adjust her lessons as she sees necessary following student performance and input.

“Reflections from students have been cautiously optimistic. I think many are overwhelmed. They are focused on the technical aspects first instead of the science which makes me sad. I am hopeful that ultimately, students will be less grade oriented and more focused on how to learn,” Pfaff said

Katie Lennie, senior, enjoys virtual learning because it allows for more flexibility with her schedule. Despite the shortened lessons and accommodating deadlines, Lennie still prefers regular class. “I miss seeing my friends and am lacking a little motivation and focus at home,” Lennie said.

As a result of the online classes, Lennie had to download some specific software onto her computer in order to complete her multimedia projects. She is also in earth science this trimester and has seen adjustments in that class as well. “We have been using Google slides and videos to learn for this class, then completing daily assignments and check-ins. I really like this because the interactions help me to learn, and I find the subject interesting,” Lennie said.

Due to instructions from President Donald Trump and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Joynt feels that it is likely that the school closure will extend into May.

“At this trying time, please know that as administrators, teachers and staff in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, we will do what we can to support our students,” Joynt said.

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