When educators describe their frenzied switch to remote learning in the spring, most talk about being caught off guard. Some mention how little they knew then—about virtual learning, as well as the virus that forced them out of their school buildings. Others shudder at the tight timeframe they were given to completely reconstruct the instructional day. There was no time for preparation or “best practice.”

Since the start of the new academic year, schools in many states reopened for in-person instruction in some capacity. But as the winter surge of the coronavirus has crept in, with rising infection rates and growing case counts, many have returned to full-time remote learning.

Among them is Waterbury Public Schools, which shut down on Nov. 12. Instead of relying on the paper packets that largely defined the Connecticut district’s remote instruction in the spring, Waterbury was ready to bring students and staff online this time.

“We didn’t know how long this would last,” Darren Schwartz, chief academic officer at Waterbury, says of the pandemic. But he recalls thinking and telling staff emphatically that “if we start next year virtual, we’re not handing out packets.”

Waterbury purchased 16,000 new devices for its students and devoted much of its seven professional development days over the summer to training teachers on Google Classroom and other tools and systems the district would be bringing into the fold.

“To me, it’s a completely different approach from the spring to now,” Schwartz says. “The transformation from paper packets being passed out to synchronous lessons and learning, being connected to adults and knowing that the teacher will be there for you, that’s a huge shift for us—one that needed to happen, but that we weren’t prepared for.”

Read the full article about remote schools by Emily Tate at EdSurge.