In this episode of The Education Trust’s podcast, ExtraOrdinary Districts, Corey Miklus, superintendent of Seaford Public Schools in Delaware is joined by principals Carol Leveillee and Krissy Jennette for a wide-ranging discussion of what it’s like to lead schools during a pandemic with Karin Chenoweth (@karinchenoweth) and Tanji Reed Marshall (@Remarsh76).

The superintendent and principals talk about organizing instruction to accommodate students who are in person twice a week and those who are learning remotely the entire week. “We keep using that word hard,” says Superintendent Miklus. “I can’t think of any staff member in the district whose job hasn’t changed.”

After spending the summer working to make sure that every aspect of school would be better than during the spring, when the district closed abruptly, Seaford educators were initially worried that students were starting behind where they were in March. But after some review, teachers are saying that students have caught back up and are moving forward with their learning. The reading program Seaford uses, Bookworms, has been adapted to accommodate remote learning, and after a lot of logistical work, teachers have started to be able to provide the differentiated instruction the program calls for.

But Seaford is in Sussex County, which has had thousands of cases of coronavirus, many centered in the poultry plants where many of the students’ parents work. Neighboring districts have closed as cases have increased, but Seaford has managed to keep cases within the district down to isolated instances rather than outbreaks.

“Some days everything is going great and people are feeling good,” Jennette said. Other days people are feeling apprehensive because someone may have tested positive.”

Still battling internet issues, Seaford’s superintendent is trying to ensure that the district is prepared to go fully remote if necessary.

“It’s hard every single day, but we know what we have to do as a district to keep moving us forward,” Miklus said.

To learn more about Seaford, listen to Episode 4 of Season 2 of ExtraOrdinary Districts and Episode 6 of ExtraOrdinary Districts in ExtraOrdinary Times.

Music and recording by Mike Petillo of Tonal Park.