Local district starts take-home, online learning

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) With the threat of COVID-19 across the country and Central Texas, schools have been forced to close until at least April 3.

The region's largest school district has shifted its focus to take-home and online learning. (File)

To continue learning across the district, Killeen ISD returned to the classroom Wednesday but in a virtual way.

For families without access to the internet, take-home packets were also made available.

For longtime teachers such as Mindy and John Smallwood, this new way of learning was unique.

"It's definitely different than something I've ever done before," said Mindy Smallwood, a teacher at Clifton Park Elementary School. "Teaching 4-year-olds online."

At Clifton Park, teachers have made videos and posted them to YouTube, hoping to bring a sense of normalcy and a familiar face to the students they are teaching in the virtual world.

"I’m reading informational and fun books and talking to my kids and asking them questions just so they get that personal touch that they need to be motivated to continue to learn," Mindy Smallwood said.

Killeen ISD has setup a online page for parents and students to access all of the information related to the Continued Learning Center.

"Campus leadership and teachers will be communicating directly with families and students with specific information regarding their classes and their students' learning progress. It is important for parents and caregivers to monitor this work so that learning continues," the district said.

For John Smallwood, as a photography teacher at KISD's Career Center, his teaching has been around the digital world. But with COVID-19 coronavirus pushing the start of school back, he's also had to adjust.

“It’s just a different form that you’re not getting my daily instructions in the classroom, you’re getting them from remind messages and emails," he said.

As an educator, he is reminding his students the lesson in life -- even in the coronavirus pandemic.

"My photo assignment for them in their daily life...how can they portray social distancing," he said. "Eventually this is going to end. Through a photograph, what is your hope for the future?"

As of now, schools remain closed through April 3. Parents who have take-home packets should return them next Monday.