The North Bend Eagle


This video was produced by NBC, demonstrating some of its online learning.

Pandemic moves school to unchartered online waters

by Nathan Arneal
Published 4/1/20

Last Tuesday North Bend Central announced what was initially a two-week suspension of school has become “indefinite.” While some districts have already canceled classes for the rest of the school year, NBC’s phrasing leaves open the possibility that it could return to classes this spring if the COVID-19 situation allows.

Not that anyone is holding their breath awaiting the call back to school.

“That would be awesome,” NBC high school principal Brenda Petersen said. “That was our hope all the way through, that we’d be able to come back at least at the end, but right now that is looking more and more unlikely.”

For the seniors in the Class of 2020, they are coping with the reality that they may have already attended their final day of high school.

“I know a lot of seniors complain that ‘Oh, I just want to be done,’” NBC senior Jessa Hellbusch said, “but I am not going to lie, when I got the call from Mr. Endorf that school was going to be closing, I started crying. That’s a lot of your life just gone. We don’t know what’s going to happen with graduation or prom or the sports banquet, all those things you look forward to. That’s kind of sad.”

Classes have been canceled, but NBC education goes on.

Berkley Scott, right, and Lila Scott work on their school work at the kitchen table.

After Endorf initially announced on March 15 that school would no longer meet, teachers got two days to finalized the move to online classes before students rekindled their studies from home on March 18.
North Bend Central is a couple years into its 1:1 computer program that provides every district student a laptop or iPad. Some teachers had already been heavily incorporating online platforms like Canvas or Google Classroom into their daily classrooms. For these teachers, the shift to being completely online wasn’t too dramatic. For other teachers, it required learning a new system and heavily modifying lessons. Welding class looks a lot different when you can’t weld.

Students in grades 6-12 use Canvas, while the elementary school uses Google Classroom.

“Our teachers have been dabbling in (Canvas) and have had in-service training on it for the last number of years,” Petersen said. “We used the little items we have learned, and we just had to go full bore into it and just start picking things up. So I think we were in better shape than most schools because we were already playing with it.”

Knowing online school was a possibility during their final week in the building, teachers talked to parents during parent/teacher conferences March 9, taking a survey of who had access to wireless internet at home. Students who don’t have good internet pick up packets from the school every two weeks with pencil and paper versions of the assignments.

On Friday, March 13, most teachers gave a final review of how to use the online platform and told students to take home any textbooks they needed, most of which are also available digitally online.

Then they sent their students home for two weeks, knowing it could be much longer.
Jessa Hellbusch, the senior, left after third period on what might be her last day of high school to go prom shopping.

By 8 a.m. third grader Lila and fifth grader Berkley Scott are up and ready to begin their day at home four miles north of North Bend. Seventh grader Preston Scott is a little slower in dragging himself out of bed.

By the time parents Clay and Summer Scott leave for work, the girls have already started their schoolwork. Soon after, Preston plops on the couch and fires up his school-issued laptop.

The scene is repeating itself throughout the North Bend Central district. In town, seventh grader Akryn Bourek is already into his school day when his sophomore sister Aleya wakes up and turns on her laptop. Like the Scotts, both of their parents, Andy and Autumn Bourek, are gone to work, leaving their kids at home to do their schoolwork.

“Some days its very hard to stay motivated,” Aleya Bourek said. “Some days it’s easy and I’m just in the mood to get everything done. Other days I just want to stay in bed.”

Not all of Aleya’s teachers use Canvas, so the first thing she does is check her e-mail for notes from teachers. She has an accounting test to take by Monday and some algebra problems to do on an online program called IXL. Her class had already been taking accounting tests online through Canvas long before COVID-19 hit, so it’s nothing new.

For the most part, she thinks the online schoolwork she gets at her dining room table is pretty similar to what she’d be getting in a classroom.

“I think we’re going through the same amount of stuff as we would have in school, if not more,” Aleya said. “But it’s harder because your teachers aren’t there, and you’re not getting the social aspect of school. You’re just sitting here, so it’s easy to get distracted and off task.”

In the Scott house, the first thing Lila does is open Google Classroom and watch a video from third grade teacher Randi Mimick. The video shows Mimick’s own computer desktop where her mouse cursor reminds students where to click to find their assignments and where to click to submit them when they are done.

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