#6: Responding To A Crisis — Tim Spahn Sattler, Career & Internship Coordinator for The NET Charter High School — A Series Documenting How New Orleans Educators and Schools Are Reacting To COVID-19

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Students from The NET Charter School.

This is the sixth in a series of interviews and Q&As conducted by the Cowen Institute with New Orleans educators to highlight how schools are managing with the current COVID-19 outbreak.

This is an edited Q&A email exchange with Tim Spahn Sattler, Career & Internship Coordinator for the NET Charter High School.

Cowen Institute: How are you communicating with students and families since school closures began?

Spahn Sattler: The NET Central City started its outreach to students on Families on March 13th when the order came from the state. Students have been expected to attend Zoom classes with each of their teachers for 30 minutes a day M-Th, and Fridays are used for make-up, grading, office hours, etc. If students miss their zoom meetings, instructional staff are requested to reach out to students and families, and non-instructional staff have a designated caseload of students to correspond and engage with.

How often are you reaching out to them?

Daily — If students are marked absent because they miss their class, their families will receive a call from School Reach, and both instructional and non-instructional staff will follow up.

What type of school work are students completing while at home?

If possible, students are being asked to complete work on Google classroom, and attend Zoom. If not available or the students don’t have the technology to meet expectations, students are asked to reach out to teachers and complete paper packets that were mailed home (as of April 9, 95% of students have a computer / tablet AND wi-fi / hotspot as a result of our tech distribution).

How will remote student work be assessed (if at all)?

Feedback is always provided on all contributions made by students. We are still developing exact metrics, but full points will be awarded to students who complete at least three assignments per week.

How are you planning for the possibility that schools are closed for the rest of the year?

We have three contingency plans if we get to return for two weeks at the beginning of May, if we get to return for summer school on June 3rd, and if we have to be virtual through the end of the year.

What are you hearing from families right now that are their biggest challenges or needs?

Technology has largely been the biggest barrier. Some families are also having a hard time implementing social distancing for a number of reasons, some families are dealing with health issues that disrupt a students ability to do school, many of our high school students are having to baby-sit younger siblings, and for some students, being trapped in their home can be very triggering of various traumas.

Coronavirus has been a stressful experience for many people in the New Orleans community. People are concerned about the health of their loved ones and the financial security of their families. Is there anything that schools can do to provide emotional support to students and families?

We have two mental health counselors, as well as post-secondary counselors, academic coordinators, and deans who continue to provide social wrap-around services for our students via Zoom, email, phone calls, texts, social media, etc. We have been including resources around jobs, filing for unemployment, counseling, food access, technology, Covid-19 testing, etc. Schools are trying to fulfill the roles of a community school, even though their students are coming from every corner of the city, and we have some students who are quarantining outside of Orleans.

The mission of the Cowen Institute is to advance public education and youth success in New Orleans and beyond.

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