Local schools have been closed for weeks, will probably remain closed for the foreseeable future, but Itawamba school officials have given furloughed students a way to continue their educations at home … at least informally.

The Itawamba County School District recently made packets of educational material for all grade levels, kindergarten through high school, available via their website. There’s even some ACT prep for college-bound students.

Links to each educational packet can be found at http://bit.ly/icsdpackets.

Each packet contains dozens of pages of worksheets and activities specifically designed for the grade level selected. The packets were designed as part of a collaboration between the Bailey Education Group, local schoolteachers and administrators. The activities in each is similar, if not identical, to the work students would do in their classrooms if their schools were open.

“They’re basically review packets of what students have learned,” said Sheryl Ewing, ICSD Curriculum/Parent Coordinator.

Ewing, who helped develop the packets, said they contain activities typically used as refreshers before testing. She said she hopes parents will use them to keep their children’s minds active during the ongoing COVID-19 quarantine.

“Our goal was simply to provide parents with work students can do at home,” she said. “It is not for a grade in any way. We just wanted to do something as a district to help our students [avoid regressing] in their skills. Obviously, this is uncharted territory for all of us. We’re just trying to do our best to get something out there.”

The packets range in size from a few pages to roughly the size of a metropolitan phone book. Ewing said parents shouldn’t worry about printing out entire packets, but pick the kinds of activities they think their children might enjoy or benefit from the most.

“Don’t let that overwhelm you,” she said. “We put the whole packet up there. Go on and print one story and the questions, or one or two pages of the math … Don’t worry about doing all of it. It’s just something to keep them where they were and to keep those skills refreshed.”

Although the packets are available online, the district printed and distributed hundreds of them at area churches during their sack lunch program. The school district halted that program late last week over concerns about the increasing spread of the virus.

Ewing said there’s real concern among local educators about their students losing ground because of closed classrooms. It’s something to which any educator can attest when returning from summer break.

“The first two weeks back are typically kind of refresher material from what they learned the previous year,” she said.

Parents who aren’t able to print the packets can find other ways to stimulate their children’s minds. Ewing suggested taking a deck of cards, cutting each card in half, shuffling the new bifurcated deck, drawing cards and having their children add them up. That reinforces their math skills in a simple, fun way.

“It doesn’t all have to be printed or online,” she said. “You can do fun things as a family that reinforce those skills as well.”

The goal, she said, is to keep Itawamba County children learning, whether they’re in the classroom or not.

“No grades are given,” Ewing said. “It is just simply to help the students keep up with what they’ve been doing.”

adam.armour@journalinc.com

Twitter: @admarmr

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