By Kendall McGee | September 16, 2020 at 6:49 PM EDT – Updated September 16 at 7:39 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Schools across New Hanover County have been in session for weeks now teaching online exclusively.
Teachers at Trask Middle School have come up with a creative solution to bridge the digital divide: its a concept they call mobile learning labs.
School staff packed an activity bus with books and science kits Wednesday afternoon and drove to Briarcliff Apartments to distribute supplies and show their students some love. Staff came up with the idea to hit the road and drive into certain communities with student resources, and the school’s administration did their part to bring the concept to life with their title 1 funds.
“If they can’t come to us, then we can just go to them,” said principal Margaret Rollison. “When we’re not able to have students in front of us, it’s kind of hard to communicate with the families. It can be hard to support the students, so this provides another way to bridge that gap.”
Families waited in the rain Wednesday for the bus to roll through the parking lot and many held their umbrellas as they waited in line for their child to see their teacher and pick up a new book.
“I never thought I’d see the day, but they’re dying to get back to school. They’ve enjoyed home schooling but they’re ready to see friends and socialize again and get past all this craziness and get some normalcy back in their lives,” said father David Isley.
The shift back to in person learning is just around the corner for families in New Hanover County. Tuesday night, the school board voted to move into the next phase of reopening in early October. The plan is a hybrid of in-class and remote teaching where students will spend one week in class and two weeks learning online.
Middle school student Nick Isley says he’s looking forward to getting back to school already.
“I miss seeing all my friends honestly and seeing my teachers and being in person classes,” admitted Nick.
Its not just the students that miss face to face interactions at school.
“The halls are quiet and we just missed the laughter and the chatter, you know, missing ‘stop running down the halls’ so I know it’s gonna look a little bit different, but we are excited and ready to see our students back in our hallways,” said the school’s social worker Treasa Hyman.
“We’re really excited to have kids back we want them to come back face-to-face we know that that’s the best way to deliver instruction and get to know our children and so there’s a lot of excitement but it’s overwhelming with a very short amount of time to actually put the plan in motion,” the principal said.
While the mobile learning lab was designed to make virtual learning easier, the principal says its also an important part of making the transition back to learning in a classroom.
“If students are connected to school there’s a better chance that they’re going to feel safer coming back if they know that they have an ally here in the building,” said Rollison.
Staff at Trask say they plan to continue the mobile labs in the coming weeks ahead of the transition to in-person learning.
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