Parents shop for materials to keep kids learning during coronavirus outbreak school closures

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Amy Morrison wants to make sure her kids stay on track while their schools close during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Leander ISD mother of three spent Tuesday afternoon at an Austin school supply store to buy workbooks and reading materials for her seventh, fifth and second graders.

“Just a bunch of different items to keep them occupied,” she said.

“We don’t want it to stop,” Morrison said. “Even during summer, we keep them occupied, Whether if it’s reading— they actually they read every day. So we just want to keep that learning going so they don’t forget the things that they have learned so far this year.”

Dozens of school districts in Texas have extended Spring Break and have cancelled classes beyond the week off. Some will return with online learning, others are weighing whether to suspend the remainder of the semester.

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the STAAR testing requirements on Monday. Some universities are sending students home for the school year.

“We really didn’t know how we were going to adapt until the phones started ringing and we got an uptick in calls from parents wondering if we could help them keep their kids busy while they’re at home,” Susan Savoie, owner of school supply store Teacher Heaven.

The store has temporarily marked down workbooks.

“If that helps, and makes those more those little study materials more attainable, we’d love to help,” Savoie said.

A spokesperson from the Texas Education Agency indicated state leaders planned to issue additional guidance for families soon, adding that many districts are already working through how to pursue online opportunities and distance learning.

“For our younger two — second and fifth grade — they did send home stuff on last Friday, some materials that to use if the break would have been extended,” Morrison said. “Our seventh grader did not, but she has a school issued laptop, so I’m assuming material will be sent through Google Classroom at some point in the next week.”

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