Many students heading back to school this year will find themselves with a new study buddy: the U.S. Mail.
Schools that offer remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic are planning to use the mail to help stay connected to students and parents, continuing a practice that began when the public health crisis shuttered classrooms in the spring.
In addition to shipping textbooks to students’ homes, school districts are mailing learning packets and other instructional materials.
“Some things just have to be sent through the mail,” said Jeanie Dawson, materials management director for the public schools in Montgomery County, MD.
The system — which has more than 200 schools and 166,000 students, making it the nation’s 14th-largest district — plans to offer all-remote learning for at least the first semester of the academic year, which begins Aug. 31.
Although Montgomery County allows parents and students to come to school to pick up textbooks, laptops and other materials, the district is also relying on the Postal Service to ensure families have everything they’ll need for the fall.
“We’re trying to not have families come out more than they need to during the pandemic,” Dawson said.
Twenty-one of the 25 largest school districts are choosing remote learning only as their back-to-school instructional model, affecting more than 4.5 million students, according to Education Week.
Liz Burkhardt, marketing director for Agile Education Marketing, a Denver-based company that provides data intelligence for schools and universities, said while it’s too soon to tell how widespread the use of mail will be this year, she expects it “will be a lot more viable” than usual.
If nothing else, some teachers are learning to use the Postal Service to surprise students.
Tanya Dawson, a teacher in the Paulding County School District in Dallas, GA, mailed 60 postcards to her students during the statewide shutdown in the spring to let them know that she was thinking about them.
“We’re looking at ways we can connect with those kids,” she told Education Week. “A lot of them, their parents are still going to work, and they’re home alone. We don’t want them to feel alone.”
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