Despite COVID-19 Crisis, Rocketeers Continue Learning
by Preston Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketship Public Schools
Today started like most days at Rocketship. It started with morning launch – a daily ritual when we come together as an entire school community to sing, dance, celebrate our core values, and motivate our students for the day ahead. But today, our morning launch was entirely virtual.
Rocketship schools across the country officially transitioned to distance learning today.
We closed all of our schools nationwide as part of the larger public health effort to help mitigate the further spread of coronavirus in our communities. We are doing our part to help “flatten the curve” of this pandemic.
Distance learning, especially for elementary schools, introduces a wide range of challenges our team is working to solve. We all know that learning doesn’t happen in isolation. Learning is a dynamic process that unfolds in the interactions students have with their teachers, their parents, and each other. Our vibrant school communities are just as critical as the quality and rigor of our instruction. That is exactly why we are starting our distance learning days with “virtual launch.” And we’re using Facebook Live for our daily social-emotional lessons and weekly parent community meetings. We’re even doing Facebook Live lunch with our students. Our school day ends with “virtual landing” – a second daily community-wide gathering to reflect on the day, continue to provide normal school day structure for our Rocketeers, and nurture those informal interactions that occur during school dismissal.
Of course, online learning is already part of our normal school days at Rocketship. Our students won’t skip a beat using technology at home. Our teachers are recording video lessons on Google Classroom to guide their students through their core content in Humanities and STEM. Students will also access the same online learning programs we use in the classroom while learning at home. And we are providing solutions for families without internet access or a web-enabled device at home.
Not every service we provide to our community can be moved online. The universal breakfast and lunch we serve across all of our campuses provide our families with critical access to healthy meals. Thanks to our enterprising team and amazing partners at Revolution Foods, our campuses are serving as grab and go meal distribution sites for families. I volunteered to distribute food at my own daughter’s school this morning – Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep – and could see firsthand what a relief this continuity of food access is providing for families.
We are just beginning to come to terms with this new normal. We will surely confront new challenges in the weeks and months ahead. But in watching our team respond to this crisis with urgency, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to our mission, I am confident we will do everything in our power to ensure that this virus does not disrupt our Rocketeers’ learning or the strength of the communities we have built.
Rocketship’s Sample Distance Learning Schedule
Published on March 17, 2020