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Column: Technology use during COVID-19 — now what?

WORTHINGTON Suffice it to say, this has been a hard year for so many people. From quarantining to illness to the loss of friends and family, it has been tough.

Concerning education, the changes we made were intense. Thankfully, because we value technology for our students, we had the ability to match each student to a device for distance learning in a very short period of time. The tech department was stretched to say the least, but in the end, District 518 made distance learning productive, workable and possible. We managed to support staff and student devices even though distance was a factor. We were able to make programs work from home and facilitate teachers doing their teaching from their kitchen tables.

With students back in school, parents and all school staff are much happier! It was fun to watch the kids get together after such a long period, during which most of their time was spent only with their immediate families. They were definitely ready to have friends back in their lives. We have some really great kids in District 518.

The long-term effects of COVID-19 will not be known for some time yet. We do know that depression, anxiety and too much screen time will be a part of the forthcoming issues. You as parents can do your part by helping your kids engage in non-screen activities. Take them for a walk, encourage them to play outside, get out the games that have been in the closet for years and play with them. Have them put their phones in a place that is out of sight and out of mind. Be mindful of what they are doing when they are online. Teach them how to interact with others, especially with their grandparents or family members they don’t often see. If we have learned anything, we now know the value of family. Teach them that technology has a time and place and should never be all-consuming in their lives.

Technology will continue to be a factor in your students’ learning. It is needed for today’s education, but now we need the ability to balance the use of technology with just being a kid doing kid things that do not require technology every minute of every day.

Seize the day! Be that kid who has fun with technology but knows the other great parts of growing up like getting muddy, baking a cake or cookies, being kind, interacting with peers, helping others and just having a good time being young. Summer is coming!

Diane Standafer is employed in District 518’s information technology department.