STEM School implements remote learning as coronavirus continues to spread in Colorado

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Posted at 8:35 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 09:40:02-04

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- STEM School in Highlands Ranch become one of the first educational institution in Colorado to implement remote learning as the state tries to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus in Colorado: Latest COVID-19 updates from March 23, 2020

To say it was a hard first day for STEM School teacher Michelle Gasser would be an understatement.

“I miss not seeing them every day,” said Gasser about her students.

Her kitchen his now her classroom. She even brought the class guinea pig out for a virtual appearance.

“I want to connect with my kids,” she said.

Using different online tools, including making instructional videos, she's able to teach her students from home.

“We have a platform called Canvas, we’re also doing Zoom sessions with our students,” Gasser said, who added virtual teaching isn't something she's unfamiliar with.

“We have done virtual days before,” Gasser said.

“But one day of virtual learning is very different than setting up possibly the rest of the semester of virtual learning,” STEM Director of Professional Development Stephanie Mendrala added.

That's a much bigger proposition.

Last year, their year was tragically disrupted by the school shooting that left Kendrick Castillo dead and eight others injured. And now this year, they’ll also have to face a spring they would prefer not too.

“It’s very hard. It’s very hard. From a personal perspective, I have a senior at school and that’s very hard, so yes, I think emotionally, our needs are going to be even greater," Mendrala said. "I think our nerves are frayed even more because we just can’t seem to have a regular school year. Yes, it’s challenging and again, a big focus for us is gonna be on the emotional needs."

And on day one back in session, class is slow.

“I’ve spent the majority of the morning Zooming with them and waving at them and smiling at them,” Gasser said, adding she's grateful to still have at least that interaction with her students.

Other school districts in the area could make the move to online learning as well in the coming days. Check with your school district to find out a schedule for when that might happen.