As schools closed amid the outbreak of COVID-19, the KIPP New Jersey network conducted surveys of families and found that between 50 and 60 percent of KIPP Newark scholars did not have access to a dedicated device – a laptop or a desktop computer – at home. As many educators worked together to ship more than 4,800 packets to students across New Jersey, KIPP Newark staff and leadership understood that the packets could only serve as an initial stopgap measure. For this reason, staff collected devices from the region’s 11 schools to send home to students. Over the next few days, staff members will distribute more than 2,700 computers to students to ensure they have the capacity to engage in face-to-face learning with teachers and peers.
“While I am concerned about the loss of class time, at KIPP New Jersey we are also mindful of the potential social-emotional learning gap that can develop when some students do not have access to face-to-face engagement with teachers and peers,” said KIPP New Jersey CEO Ryan Hill. “We’ve all seen the research that reinforces the importance of learning as a social experience. We are doing everything in our power to mitigate potential learning loss at this time by ensuring students have the tools they need to continue learning alongside their peers.”
Once students have the requisite devices and tools in place, they will receive daily “morning messages” from their teacher, in order to ensure students continue to feel supported and connected during this time. Given the added pressure that this sort of learning environment can place on parents and caregivers, KIPP Newark teachers will also be sharing daily “PM check-in” questions that families can use to help students recall and activate the learning in which they have engaged.
“Not having to worry about my child falling behind in school takes pressure off my family. I know, my child will stay on track despite the uncertainty about the school year ahead,” said Jess Chastity Davis, Newark parent. “I truly do feel as if teachers are working side-by-side with us and equipping us with the tools we’ll need to see our children through this tough time.”
KIPP New Jersey schools are part of the nationally recognized “Knowledge Is Power Program” nonprofit network of college-preparatory, free, public charter schools educating elementary, middle and high school students. In 2002, KIPP New Jersey first opened its doors in Newark’s South Ward as a single class of 80 fifth-graders and has since grown to serve over 5,700 students in grades K-12 in Newark and Camden. More than 88 percent of KIPP New Jersey students currently qualify for free or reduced meals.
In the next few years, KIPP New Jersey will have 11 schools in Newark and 7 in Camden. By offering highly effective educators with strong bonds to families, more time in school learning, services that support a variety of student needs, and a culture focused on achievement, our students are on the path to and through college. Visit KIPPNJ.org to learn more.
For more information, visit KippNJ.org.
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