Coping with Covid by Carolyn Baker.

School is in session

Finishing the school year at home

Parents have a bigger role than usual in K-12 education due to the coronavirus causing school closures. Teachers, students and parents are adjusting to the new reality of mandatory remote learning.

Most parents are not professional educators, math is being taught differently and digital distractions are at an all-time high. Parents may not be equipped to take on this education challenge, but parents are not alone. Teachers are working hard to make remote learning a success for their students.

“First of all, we would like to thank all of the parents who are taking on the task of teaching from home,” Teresa Murdoch said. We realize this was not expected, but the Alder School teachers are very pleased with how well everything is going.”

Carolyn Baker has been helping her 9-year-old daughter, Maggie, finish the school year from home for a month. It was not a fluid transition. Both had to adjust to a social distancing education.

“It’s better now that we know how much structure is needed,” Carolyn said.

Carolyn is a life and wellness coach in Alder. She wrote a free eBook to help children understand how to cope with the coronavirus. It portrays Rubbish the raccoon with simple ways to define the terms of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bakers are a family of three in rural Montana. Maggie is an only child and separation from her friends has been hard.

“It feels kind of sad,” Maggie said. “I talk to one of my best friends on Facetime but I have a best friend who can’t Facetime.”

Madison County parents and students will likely finish the school year with remote learn- ing. The abrupt changes in the year has begun to normalize and people are falling into their new temporary roles. “This is the best thing and worst thing about being home schooled,” Alder fourth-grader Max Gilman said. “I like it be- cause if we get our work done in the morning, we can do whatever we want to do. We can also work with my mom or dad. The worst thing about it is I don’t get to see my friends or play with them.”


COVID-19 has challenged the world to work in a different way. School is in session, but students may not enter the buildings. After seven months of a structured school year, Gov. Steve Bullock ordered all public schools closed March 15. The order has been extended to April 24.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction advised schools to plan on finishing the school year with remote learning. Montana closures are considered in two-week chunks, which makes it difficult to plan further in the future. But regardless if school closures are lifted in two weeks, four weeks or six weeks, social distancing will be recommended at some length of time. It will not be safe for some students to return to school this school year, if the closure lifts before early June.

The OPI also advised against large-scale-in-person graduation ceremonies.

Jason Chisholm and his cousin Cade McParland are seniors at Sheridan High School. They usually celebrate life’s big moments together. The cousins’ high school graduation warrants a barbeque-celebration with Chisholm’s father's smoker, friends and family. But in a world of social distancing the celebration will have to be postponed. Chisholm’s grandparents in California would have traveled for the occasion.

“The saddest part of it all is not being able to see my grandparents,” Chisholm said. “They’ve been waiting to see me graduate high school for so long.”

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