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Daily Journal
     March 17, 2020      #47-77 KDJ

Kankakee teachers prepare online learning during

KANKAKEE — In various staff meetings held Monday, Kankakee School District 111 officials and teachers discussed the schools’ preparedness for using Learning Anywhere, Anytime to continue instruction despite uncertainties surrounding the state’s mandated school closures.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday afternoon that school closures would be mandatory from Tuesday until at least March 30, leading many districts across the state to turn to an E-Learning curriculum. District 111’s E-Learning program is called Learning Anywhere, Anytime.

“Learning Anywhere, Anytime basically means that we know that learning can happen in the library. It can happen at home. It can happen in the community,” Superintendent Generva Walters said. “It doesn’t have to happen in a school building from 8 o’clock to 3 o’clock.”

Beth Anderson, president of the Kankakee Federation of Teachers Union, told the Kankakee School Board Monday evening that she along with Walters and Board President Barbara Wells spent the day talking with staff about the district’s plans regarding coronavirus and school closures.

“I have to say, in every single meeting, it was positive; it was powerful,” Anderson said. “Our staff is ready for what lies ahead.”

Anderson said the district’s implementation of a Competency-Based Education (CBE) curriculum model and Learning Anywhere, Anytime deserve acknowledgement, even though teachers met them with frustration at first.

“We were struggling trying to implement CBE and Learning Anywhere, Anytime, but today, I can say we really made some significant gains,” she said. “We can appreciate that because we are reaping those benefits this week in this crisis.”

Anderson said the district is able to focus on reassuring students and families while others might be anxious or overwhelmed with the prospect of closures.

“Our intent has been to prepare students for a future we could not predict or imagine,” she said. “Here we are, and Kanakakee is ready because we were forward thinking and we recognized work in education doesn’t have to be in a classroom with a strict schedule of seat time.”

Walters said the district has been working on CBE and Learning Anywhere, Anytime for a couple years now.

“We’re not scrambling to figure out what we’re going to do while students are at home because we’ve already been doing some of that work already,” Walters said.

Anderson also took a moment to thank everyone who has supported Kankakee teachers in getting to where they are today.

“We’ll be navigating these school closures with confidence,” Anderson said. “Our struggle is real. No doubt we’ve had a rough two years, but it was definitely worth it.”

Board President Barbara Wells said she attended the meetings to reassure teachers that the board is supportive of administration and staff through these uncertain times.

Wells said she was pleased at the professionalism teachers exhibited in the face of an unprecedented situation.

“I could see many of them were visibly upset at the prospect of not being able to complete the school year in the building, but they were on board with doing this work and making it work for our students, parents and each other,” Wells said. “We appreciate that work.”

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