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Distance learning officially kicks off on Monday. Here's what to expect

Now that school closures have been extended to May 4, here's what parents can do to help their kids succeed.

MINNEAPOLIS — Students all across Minnesota are now just days away from two words we've heard a lot lately... "distance learning."

We know families have plenty of questions on exactly how all of this will work.

"Monday in many respects feels like the anticipation you get from the beginning of a school year," Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker says.

Monday will kick off a “new norm” for many parents at home, but Ricker says it’s important to remember that it’s new for teachers too and they understand this transition will be tough for many kids.

"We're going to learn a lot as educators by Monday afternoon about how things may even look different for Tuesday. There’s a lot that could change and we ask for patience and understanding,” Ricker says.

There's not exactly a uniform state model for online learning, Ricker says.

And that’s because every district, teacher and student has different needs and will require a different approach when it comes to transitioning to online learning.

"Our educators are thinking almost student by student, what it's going to take. They’re thinking of a student, the space they’re in, what they have access to, what they don’t have access to and what they need to succeed,” Ricker says.

The Minnesota Department of Education has the expectation that all schools will have lesson plans posted online by Monday morning.

Officials are encouraging parents to look at it and go over the material with their children so they understand what’s expected of them.

Ricker says parents aren't expected to suddenly become teachers, but they should show an interest in what their children are learning.

"It shows students you care about what they're doing. You're also showing them that they are in the drivers seat of their education and by having them recall that information you're helping them solidify what they're wondering about, what they learned," Ricker says.

Parents should also expect to see more interaction with teachers, because without a classroom, communication will be key.

She says remember, teachers are learning too, and they'll be open to your concerns about how students are adjusting and will have advice on what parents can do to help.

"Some teachers are setting up virtual office hours. Other teachers are making sure they're available by phone. It will be a big change, but Minnesota students are worth it, and I can see the adults in their lives stepping up and making sure we are meeting their needs."

A local organization, Minnesota Computers for Schools, is providing computers to under-served students to make sure they don’t fall behind during the COVID-19 school closures.

KARE 11 has created a “Give 11” campaign to raise funds for this organization.

We’ve donated $10,000 to kick this off and you can help too by going to KARE11.com/Give11Tech

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KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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