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Challenges ahead for virtual learning in Indianapolis

Posted at 12:37 AM, Aug 14, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — The state's largest school district is preparing to welcome students back to learning — virtually — in what has been an unprecedented school year for kids across Indiana.

Leaders with Indianapolis Public Schools want parents to know they're ready to help and they're aware of extra challenges that some families are facing.

"I'm kind of actually looking forward to it now," Dina Kelly, an IPS parent, said.

WRTV first introduced Kelly a few weeks ago when she and another mom talked about their worries and expectations for the upcoming school year. Kelly's concerns are different from many because her son has Down syndrome.

Kelly said it's been hard trying to teach her kids virtually.

"It's been hard for me," Kelly said. "I have to create a plan and a speech class trying to get him to talk."

That was her reaction after finishing up the last school year virtually. Now with more guidance from the school, Kelly feels a little differently.

"I just hope for the best and I'm pretty sure it's going to be interesting and informing," Kelly said. "The first time I didn't know what to expect but this time I know."

On Thursday, IPS held a virtual meeting for parents to talk about what remote learning is going to look like for students.

"The first thing for everyone is grace and flexibility," Dr. Warren Morgan, IPS chief academics officer, said. "I think that's like the one thing I'm learning, all of us, we're going to be learning together."

Morgan said teachers and other staff members have already been reaching out to families to prep them for this school year, which starts Monday. He's not fooling himself, it's going to be a learning process.

" I imagine this first nine weeks is going to be a lot of that — us trying things out," Morgan said. "When it works great, when it doesn't, we communicate it back out so the families know what to expect."

It's a top priority for IPS to make sure they're helping families like Kelly's who have students that need extra attention.

"If their IEP calls for the student to have more individualized time when that teacher releases the student to do work independently, the special education teacher may push in and say, 'Hey, let's connect, let's see how your work is going," Morgan said.

For Kelly, that's a big relief knowing her son, Denzel, will get the services he normally receives in-person.