WVUSD offers distance learning resources

Walnut Valley Unified School District (WVUSD) and Walnut High School (WHS) officials have been working together to provide adequate resources for students during this distance learning period. 

Since March 2020, various hardware and software materials have been purchased for WHS students to have the best distance learning experience possible. Some examples of hardware are the portable hotspots, Chromebooks and other devices. Different upgraded software licenses for programs like Zoom and Google Meet have also been purchased. 

“I think [that the new resources] are great. It [gives me] different ways to get the instruction to students. If you’re looking at Edpuzzle, I mean, just the idea that I can now assign a video and embed my questions in it, is amazing. It’s just a quick and easy way for checking for understanding, which is what we want teachers to be doing,” technology coach Kevin Wendland said. “[These resources] just help make learning a little bit more interactive than a teacher just sitting there and talking.”

In order to purchase these software resources, the district officials go through many different steps in order to ensure that they are purchasing resources that will be used effectively. They must go through numerous trial periods and get feedback from schools and teachers. By going through this process, officials aim to provide resources that will improve students’ online learning experience. 

“It’s important to keep you guys connected and engaged in your education because at the end of the day, we are still a family. We’re a family that maybe just can’t see each other in person for a while. We don’t want you guys to feel like you got left behind and that you’re unprepared,” Assistant Principal Andrea Poma said. “Ultimately, this is just a small step in your entire career. We want to make sure that you’re not losing out on any of those critical skills that you’re going to need post high school. We want to make sure that you guys are still equipped with the tools you’re going to need later on.”

Another investment that the district has made for distance learning is hotspots. These hotspots are available for students who have trouble with getting internet connection. Since distance learning has started, the district handed out around 250 hotspots to various families. 

“Previously, we never had a need to provide [hotspots], but because of this remote learning situation, we do have students that do not have internet at home, or the internet services are not good enough to run some programs, like Zoom,” Information Technology Manager Lam Bui said. 

In addition to software and hardware purchases, officials have also been working together to help make sure that every student is able to continue their education, no matter their circumstances. Starting last week, select students were able to come to WHS for their online education in a program called the Connectivity Cohort. Following safety protocols, these students are now able to access the internet and other resources at school. 

“It is for students who have shown that they have struggled with WiFi connection over this entire course of distance learning and students who haven’t been able to reach the availability with the hotspots,” Poma said. “It’s definitely been on a case by case basis but we’ve been able to provide room for about 12 kids which is really awesome. We did it based off of the actual need.”

To accommodate for the students that did not have the necessary resources, the district has also handed out several different devices for distance learning. In total, about 6,000 devices have been handed out since distance learning has started. This includes Chromebooks, hotspots and iPads.

“We are working together to make sure that all of our students are healthy and that they are safe and that we are keeping in communication with all of them,” Poma said. “We also want to especially make sure that students who might need a little more assistance or resources. We’re just working hard to make sure that distance learning is going as smoothly as possible.”

By Margaret Lee, News editor
Photo by Elise Pabon