Remote Learning During COVID-19

How school districts are meeting the learning needs and connectivity abilities of their students

How school districts are meeting the remote learning needs and connectivity abilities of their students

In addition to securing devices for students and helping households get Internet access for distance learning during COVID-19, school districts are rapidly adjusting their teaching modalities to meet the varied learning needs and connectivity abilities of their students. 

There is no one-size-fits-all to rolling out remote learning for school districts. We’re seeing a huge range of approaches, and many school districts are adjusting their plans as quickly as possible in order to support their students, families, teachers, and staff.

Remote learning brings unique challenges, including; surveying which students have access to a reliable Internet connection and device and securing funds to help those students in need. School districts must also train teachers and parents on new instructional technologies, and ensure that if a connectivity solution is chosen, that it’s CIPA compliant. Learn how teaching modalities are changing to support student learning at home.

Teaching modalities for remote learning during COVID-19

School districts are adjusting their plans based on students’ ability to connect to distance learning programs. Some are experimenting with uploaded instructional videos on YouTube, EdTech platforms like Google Classroom, and/or the ability to download a weekly packet from their teachers. In other districts, modalities are at the individual discretion of each teacher or are strictly offline.

Here are some examples* of how each of these modalities are being rolled out based on the level of Internet connectivity required. 

Connectivity level needed: no Internet access required
  • Paper packets
    • Example: Mahnomen District 432, Minnesota: The 650-student Mehnomen district in northwestern Minnesota is using weekly packets on paper that will serve as the bulk of instructional materials. Anything online will be purely supplemental, since many of the district’s students don’t have regular computer access. Distance Learning Packets will be sent out once a week via bus routes and during meal delivery times, and collected in a similar manner. Distance Learning Packets will consist of lessons from the four core subjects (Math, Reading/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies). Lessons will be intended to advance the student’s learning while allowing added practice on previously taught concepts. Teachers will provide supplementary online websites and apps, so if the family has Internet access, they may choose to use websites to enhance the learning of their students.
Connectivity level needed: basic Internet connection with minimum 1 Mbps download speed
  • Downloadable and paper packets blend
    • Example: Cincinnati Public Schools is providing weekly work packets with clear learning outcomes each week, and teachers are providing assignments via Schoology. Students will not be graded, but their work will be monitored by teachers. Teachers will also provide check-ins with students and office hours to support their learning. Packets can be accessed online, distributed at meal service sites, or printed for free at Staples locations.
    • Example: Oklahoma City Public Schools. The school district’s Continuous Learning Plan (CLP) has two options for student learning by grade level: online through the district website or via instructional packets (paper/hardcopies). Paper copies of the instructional packets will be available for families to pick up at any of the meal sites each week. Content with lessons and activities will be available one week at a time.
Connectivity level needed: Internet Connection with minimum 4 Mbps download speed
  • Pre-recorded lesson videos from teachers
    • Example: Albuquerque Public Schools is posting videos to their YouTube channel and partnering with PBS to provide instructional videos in addition to work packets by subject and grade level.
  • EdTech platforms (Google Classroom, Canvas, See Saw, APEX, Microsoft Teams)
    • Example: Kansas City Public Schools is using Google Classroom as its learning platform. Teachers provide daily video instruction, assignments, and daily office hours to support students. While this is implemented, students still have access to district-provided weekly work packets, which have assignments and links to instructional videos to support learning. Assignments for high school students will be collected and graded, but expectations for elementary and middle school students are unclear.
Connectivity level needed: Internet Connection with recommended 5 – 25 Mbps
  • Synchronous learning
    • Example: at Duval County Public Schools, students will continue receiving instruction through the district’s home-education initiative, Duval HomeRoom, and Microsoft Teams. The district was one of the first districts in Florida to launch a home-education program last week that mimics a regular school day. To support online learning, more than 30,000 laptops have been distributed to students. 

*A number of these examples were sourced using the Center for Reinventing Public Education’s (CRPE) “District Responses to COVID-19 School Closures” database.

If you would like to share the teaching modalities you have been employing during COVID-19 to be shared on this blog post, please email