Monday, March 23, Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) officially launched their high school classes onto Canvas, a website for students and teachers, to allow for out-of-class learning. While COVID-19, the designation for the Coronavirus, which has swept the world, keeps us at home, it can’t keep our students from learning.
With the official launch of GJUHSD’s online classes, students will be able to continue their high school education, with help from their teachers, as students work at home. Teachers will also be doing their best to reach out to every student each week, making sure that no one “falls off”.
Students have already been using Canvas throughout this year and other years, and are already accustomed to it. If not, it’s really simple.
With their account provided by the school, the student is registered for their courses and will see them listed under courses. Teachers post the assignments for the students, who already have the book material for the assignment. Once the student completes their assignment, they simply snap a picture and upload it or upload a document. Simple.
Zack Rodriguez, a freshman at Liberty Ranch High School, shared that he finds that Canvas “works.”
“It is a way to track our assignments and to turn them in. It is not a teaching resource,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez didn’t seem entirely in love with Canvas, but he did go on to say that most of his distrust for the program stemmed from his inability to self-motivate, so to take his words with a grain of salt.
Annabelle Buchanan, a senior and co-president of ASB at Liberty Ranch, also shared a problem concerning Canvas.
“So, in some of my classes [the teachers] are telling us to do assignments, but we can’t do them yet because they’re not in our system; they’re only in theirs,” Buchanan said.
The district has tech support for students, but it is limited, as they don’t have many employees trained for that specific purpose. For students who do not possess home computers or whose access to public computers is limited, the school district distributed laptops for home use last Friday, March 20. Hotspots, which can be used for internet access, have been put on backorder for a week or so.
There is also the possibility of make-up days for students who missed the first day for handing out equipment for home use.
Superintendent William Spalding addressed the possibility of extended use of Canvas past the planned two weeks in a Board of Trustees meeting March 20.
“We trained up and readied people for the capacity to do this long-term,” Spalding said. “While we’re still only talking about the next few weeks, once we get the equipment out to our kids, the teachers have their equipment; we should be able to keep going as long as we need to.”
Spalding also spoke briefly about Xfinity and AT&T possibly providing free internet service.
“We’re doing our best,” Spalding said. “You know, Xfinity has come through, AT&T has come through. I think they’re going to provide free internet service in Galt, so if you’re within a (cell) tower, you can get on it.”
The superintendent emphasized the importance of the mentoring relationship between teachers and their students.
“There is no replicating what goes on every day in a classroom between a teacher and his or her students,” Spalding said. “There is no replicating it. And we’ll soon see that … what we do is really important. It’s essential; it’s essential work. And I also know there’s some situations, some kids, who’ve had some tough personal issues, have already reached out to their teachers, and the teachers have responded. So that, that’s who we are.” Still, Spalding expressed his belief in the community and its students.
“I’ve got, you know, a great community and great kids, and we’re pulling together and doing great work ….”
The district still plans on holding graduation but, in the case that COVID-19 keeps everyone home longer than expected, ideas are already being looked into for alternatives.
Two ideas mentioned was holding graduation at a later date or holding a virtual ceremony.
“I think that, for the sentimental value … holding off ‘til fall would be better …,” Buchanan said after hearing of the two ideas. “… it’s not like the district can control COVID-19, so I think that [the seniors will] be appreciative of whatever we can get.”
Spring break, in school or online, is also planned to still be a break, according to Spalding.
“I will probably have people stand down the week of spring break, ‘cause that’s a promised week of break, and we’ll treat that as a break,” Spalding said.
So worry not, students, you’re still assured at least one more week of no class attendance.
To students who qualify in the free/reduced lunch program, the program has been designated as an essential service and, as such, will remain available at school sites across the city.