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While Renee Platt sees students’ engagement as key for the Out-of-School Time programs she directs in Hesperia and White Cloud, the coronavirus pandemic has recast how that is happening.

“I am having to go through my parents to contact my students,” said Platt, who also oversees White Cloud Elementary School’s Engage! site.

With schools not in session in traditional settings since mid-March, innovative logistics and creativity are reaching students. That’s meant using digital tools and programming and sending home educational packets with online and offline options.

“The biggest issue that we had to deal with was finding a new way to communicate with students outside of school,” said Mandi Krbez, REACH Site Manager for White Cloud Junior-Senior High School.

To engage with her students, Krbez has used Instagram to post science experiments, art and mindfulness videos; and through Instagram’s video chat, hosted a spirit week and a virtual art show.

Dan Postema, Engage! Site Manager at Hesperia Middle/High School, said: "I developed a just for fun Google Classroom and posted to it daily; everything from funny YouTube videos to weekly challenges with prizes.”

The virtual interactions, however, aren’t the same as in-person, said Jennifer Way, Engage! Site Manager at Patricia St. Clair Elementary School in Hesperia. "I miss our chats and watching them grow.”

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