“The biggest bonus” of the remote learning that Godwyn Heights School District in Michigan has been doing is the strengthened ties between school and families, says Mary Lang, principal of West Elementary School.

Another bonus, says Michelle Krynicki, director of curriculum and instruction for the district, is that bonds among teachers have also been strengthened. She has heard teachers say, “I couldn’t get through this without my grade-level team or my department team.”

That said, “inconsistency is definitely a challenge,” Krynicki says. “Some kids are able to connect daily. Others, depending on their home situation or what their responsibilities within the home might be are finding hurdles.”

And many parents, Lang says, are “completely overwhelmed.” Many are front-line workers working in grocery stores, gas stations, and health facilities, and when they get home they are exhausted and not prepared to oversee their kindergarteners’ instruction.

“We’ve borrowed the phrase, provide grace,” Krynicki said, “for ourselves and for one another” to emphasize that everyone — students, teachers, and parents all need to know that they can try new things and not get it right and even sometimes not do what they should do.

In this episode of ExtraOrdinary Districts in Extraordinary Times, Lang and Krynicki talk about the challenges of ensuring that children keep learning when school buildings shut down and what the fall might bring.