PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As families prepare for schools to resume, one Philadelphia charter school is helping students, staff and parents get ready for an all-digital start. They’re looking back at what they learned at the end of last year as a guide.
Ad Prima Charter School in Overbrook and Mount Airy is gearing up just trying to make sure everyone is ready for the virtual world of learning.
In mid-March, like all schools in the commonwealth, Ad Prima Charter School abruptly closed its doors at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Students and staff were forced into a virtual learning setting.
“We set up trainings for the parents just to make sure the parents were aware of this new reality,” Ad Prima Charter School CEO Niya Blackwell said.
That training and the three months of an all-digital program has prepared them for the start of this year as second through eighth graders continue virtual learning.
“We also really benefitted of the last two-and-a-half months that our parents had a very good idea about what virtual learning is going to look like,” Principal David Brown said, “and there was a full eight-hour day and they have the experience with it.”
On Aug. 31, the school year will start with only kindergarten and first graders returning to some form of in-person classes.
“We created additional classes for kindergarten and first grade that will be only online,” Site Director Jamal Elliott said.
Attendance and daily routines will be key for all students learning from home.
“If a student is not logged on by 8:30 in the morning, we call the home,” Blackwell said. “So we’re calling the parent, we’re calling whomever that caregiver is to say they’re not logged in and they need to be.”
“They are still logging in, they have that morning routine,” Megan Simmons, a teacher, said. “They have that journal prompt that they’re still doing, they see math, they see science, social studies, ELA, their specials. They’re still receiving all the instruction that they would in-person, which I think helps.”
All 685 Ad Prima students will start a new year embracing a new normal, building on what the future of learning may look like.
“It’s scary but it’s also incredibly exciting about the opportunity that comes with it,” Brown said.
“Know that you’re in this together, we’re all in this together,” teacher Vivian Huang said.