KIPP Goes Virtual as Schools Prepare for Distance Learning Long Haul

ByM.E Cagnassola

NEWARK, NJ — As New Jersey locks into distance learning for at least the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, KIPP’s Newark schools are rolling out their second phase of remote education to 4,800 students.

In the weeks leading up to launch its virtual learning launch, Executive Director Joanna Belcher and her team were busy at work ensuring families had the necessary resources to make the plan a reality.

After handing out laptops to 65% of its students and assisting with Internet and hotspot connection. On Monday, K-12 students at KIPP’s 11 schools logged on for the first day of total virtual learning, an undertaking that’s increasingly becoming as fundamental as reading in the age of the coronavirus.

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Part of the battle, Belcher added, is making sure families have the resources they need to be secure, even beyond laptops and WiFi. KIPP set up an emergency hotline to help families in the event that they’re struggling to purchase groceries, set up a workspace, and everything that pops up in between during a crisis.

As for teachers, KIPP school leaders have been holding meetings and virtual staff development to get everyone on the same page, particularly when it comes to finding ways to nurture students from afar. Maintaining a connection between teachers and students during this time is crucial, Belcher says, and staff has been trained on how to do check-ins.

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