DCPS are set to return 21,000 students for in-person instruction starting November 9, 2020, but what will it look like?

DCPS are set to return 21,000 students for in-person instruction starting November 9, 2020, but what will it look like?

About 97% of the country is under stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus, meaning that millions of kids are no longer going to school — including in the D.C. region.

Each school district in the area has created their own distance learning programs, and most are providing free school lunches, but these programs vary from district to district. We’ll hear from three local superintendents about how things are going with their schools.

And later in the show, we’ll speak with a North Springfield Elementary P.E. teacher about how she’s still getting her students moving from home.

Produced by Kurt Gardinier

Guests

  • Jack Smith Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools; @MCPS
  • Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. Superintendent, Alexandria Public Schools; @ACPSk12
  • Lewis Ferebee Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools; @DCPSChancellor
  • Suzanne Metz Physical Education teacher at North Springfield Elementary; @NSpringfieldES

Transcript

  • 12:20:04

    KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. A bit later, we'll be speaking with North Springfield Elementary School physical education teacher Suzanne Metz about how she's still getting her students moving since school has closed. But first, about 97 percent of the country is under stay-at-home orders, meaning that millions of kids are no longer going to school, including all students in this region. So, what are these students doing, and how are they learning? It's different in every school district across the country, so let's see how it's working around here.

  • 12:20:31

    KOJO NNAMDIAnd you can call us with your questions: 800-433-8850. How is your child doing with distance learning? Has your school provided enough resources? Joining us is Jack Smith, the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. Jack Smith, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:20:47

    JACK SMITHThank you for having me today.

  • 12:20:49

    NNAMDIMontgomery County has just wrapped up week two of distance learning. How has it gone so far, and what issues have come up?

  • 12:20:56

    SMITHWell, it's been a very bumpy road, obviously. We're a face-to-face organization that uses a tremendous number of tools in our school buildings. And when the governor and the state superintendent shut down all schools and essentially said to all school-based employees, stay home for two weeks and you'll have to make up these days at some point in the future, we scrambled to provide about 50,000 Chromebooks to families and students who didn't need them (sounds like).

  • 12:21:27

    SMITHWe've done targeted delivery of Wi-Fi devices, and we've been able to connect with a tremendous number of students last week and for the three days we were in school this week. But it's bumpy. It's difficult. You go from face-to-face to all digital and paper literally in two weeks, and it's not easy. So, we're in phase one right now.

  • 12:21:52

    NNAMDII'm sure it took a lot of effort by a lot of people to make distance learning happen across the county and for all grade levels. So, can you continue this through the fall, if Maryland superintendents suggested you may have to do?

  • 12:22:03

    SMITHWell, we will do what we have to do to continue to provide opportunities and value to students. And we know that there's real disparity in that. If a family doesn't have good internet access or any access at all, then we're trying to locate them and reach out to them and help them and provide that. If they lots of access, but they have two parents trying to work from home and three children trying to go to school, we understand that that is very difficult. But we will keep doing what we have to do. And I'm confident each week we do this, we'll get better at it.

  • 12:22:37

    NNAMDIMany kids in the region are on spring break this week. School districts like Arlington and Fairfax are offering meals to students during spring break. Montgomery County schools are not. Why not?

  • 12:22:49

    SMITHWe actually offered about half-a-million meals through last Friday. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of this week we provided meals during school days. Yesterday, we gave two days’ worth of meals, and then we're partnering with some of our nonprofits on Friday and Saturday to continue providing meals across different parts of the county. And so we are doing everything we can in that way to make sure that those provisions are made for students who are in circumstances where they really need that very much.

  • 12:23:24

    NNAMDIHere is Dan in Silver Spring, Maryland. Dan, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:23:30

    DANHi, Kojo. Thanks. I was calling in about the internet connectivity for the online classes, the Zoom classes, and also about certification. But what I just heard the superintendent say blew me away, the idea that we're going to have to keep doing this, you know, through the fall, when one of my children's going to start high school. I don't know how that's going to work.

  • 12:23:55

    DANAnd I understand my children's teachers have been working really hard. You know, I appreciate the work they're doing but they spend a lot of their time, at least my son's grade school teacher, doing IT work, helping kids...

  • 12:24:09

    NNAMDI(overlapping) And, Dan, of course your kids are going to school in Montgomery County, right?

  • 12:24:12

    DANYes, I'm sorry. They're MCPS, absolutely.

  • 12:24:14

    NNAMDISo, let me have Superintendent Jack Smith respond.

  • 12:24:18

    SMITHAnd I understand your concern. I really do. The state superintendent and the governor will ultimately make the decision. Right now, they have us closed to everything except digital and remote paper learning until April 24th. We're anxiously waiting for the announcement about what will happen in Montgomery County, the rest of Maryland beyond that.

  • 12:24:43

    SMITHI will tell you about 15 of the states in the nation have already declared that schools close through the rest of this year. And I was very dismayed when the state superintendent said yesterday in a legislative hearing that she's worried this might go through the fall. So, I understand your concern completely and share it.

  • 12:25:02

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Thank you for your call, Dan. Joining us now is Gregory Hutchings, Jr., the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools. Gregory Hutchings, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:25:13

    GREGORY C. HUTCHINGSYes. Thank you for having me, Kojo.

  • 12:25:15

    NNAMDIAlexandria City Public Schools are offering lunches at a handful of schools this week despite it being spring break. How's it going, and how are you able to afford something like this?

  • 12:25:24

    HUTCHINGSSo, it's actually going really well this week. We are partnering with the city and we -- so our city and Alexandria Public Schools working together to ensure that we're, you know, feeding our students. We, today, had over 1,000 meals served to our students so we're working -- I'm sorry, yesterday, over 1,000 meals served to our students. So, we're working through that, collaboratively.

  • 12:25:47

    NNAMDILike Montgomery County schools, Alexandria City schools have also hit the two-week distance learning mark. What has worked so far, and what have the obstacles been?

  • 12:25:57

    HUTCHINGSWell, I mean, I think the advantage that we had in Alexandria is that we've already had a one-to-one technology device to students for grades three through twelve. So, all of our students were already accustomed to having Chromebooks, so we did not have to go out and purchase any additional Chromebooks. But we did have to come up with a new strategy for our pre-K through second grade students. And what we've been able to do is create learning kits that include activities. We are using our local TV stations to provide online reading and reading on TV for our students in different activities and learning demonstrations.

  • 12:26:37

    HUTCHINGSSo, our staff, because we've had technology for a while, one-to-one, they already were equipped to that. But we're just adjusting to, how do we now do this without ever seeing our students in a face-to-face environment? So, that's our biggest challenge.

  • 12:26:53

    NNAMDIVirginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered schools in the Commonwealth to remain closed for the rest of the school year, a move that Maryland and the District have not yet made. Is your school system prepared to provide the support needed for such an extended period of distance learning to both your teachers and student families?

  • 12:27:13

    HUTCHINGSSo, absolutely. We are prepared to provide. You know, we can never replicate what students can do in the classroom, but what we are now adjusting to is our new normal. And we're implementing our continuity of learning plan 2.0. The first plan, 1.0, was initiated March 13th through April 13th. And when students return back from spring break on April 14th, we're going to go right into our 2.0 throughout the end of the academic year.

  • 12:27:40

    HUTCHINGSSo, the Virginia Department of Education, they had an actual continuity for learning taskforce that developed some guidelines and, you know, expectations that are used throughout the commonwealth of Virginia. And we were able to use that as a guide for us to continue this learning online.

  • 12:28:01

    NNAMDILast week, you discussed the issue of grading with your school board. What did you decide? Will students continue to be graded during these challenging times?

  • 12:28:09

    HUTCHINGSSo, the recommendation that we made to our board on Friday, they're going to be taking a vote on April 17th. But our recommendation is that we do not provide actual letter grades for our secondary students for fourth quarter, and that we provide either a P for passing or an NG for no grade. And P is what we're striving for many of our students to receive, because that means if you complete at least 60 percent of the learning activities that have been developed and implemented or assigned throughout the remainder of this year, you will...

  • 12:28:45

    NNAMDIOh, we seem to have lost Gregory Hutchings, Jr., the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools. But we're still taking your calls, 800-433-8850. Jack Smith of Montgomery County Public Schools, what efforts are being made for special education students?

  • 12:29:01

    SMITHWell, we're doing a lot of work around trying to work with families very individually and specifically, using telephone, using the computer and using paper, because different students have different needs based on their individual education plan. And it is not an easy lift at all, and I really understand the frustration that both the educators and the families feel around this. But we are aggressively trying to find ways to connect with students in ways that will help that student continue to show progress, continue to be engaged with learning and with the experience of school as it's now defined by these circumstances.

  • 12:29:50

    NNAMDIWhen we come back, we'll be joined by Lewis Ferebee. He is the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. If you have questions or comments for him, 800-433-8850. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:30:17

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about how students are faring during the current coronavirus pandemic environment. And we were talking with Gregory Hutchings, Jr., this superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools. Gregory, the question I asked was, last week you discussed the issue of grading with your school board. What did you decide? Will students continue to be graded during these challenging times?

  • 12:30:39

    HUTCHINGSSo, yes. So what we're looking at is having our students receive either a P or an NG, that's pass or no grade for the fourth quarter. And this is for all of our secondary students. And we're hoping that our students really strive to get a P, because that will allow students to receive 100 points for fourth quarter that's calculated into their final grade, if they complete at least 60 percent of the assignments that are assigned to them.

  • 12:31:07

    HUTCHINGSIf they receive an NG, it does not have any impact on their grade. What we will do is we will be able to do an average of first, second and third quarters, to give them an average for their final grade. So, that's what we're proposing to the board. They're actually going to do a vote on April the 17th. So, we're really excited about that.

  • 12:31:28

    NNAMDID.C. Public Schools has a similar issue. Joining us now is Lewis Ferebee. He is the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. Chancellor Ferebee, you and D.C. Public Schools have decided that work assigned while schools are closed can only yield improvement to students' grades, and not hurt their grades. Why did you make that decision?

  • 12:31:48

    LEWIS FEREBEEGood afternoon, Kojo. It's good to hear from you, sir. First, I want to start by thanking our parents and our educators for being extremely flexible and nimble during this time, and Mayor Bowser for her continued leadership and the support of D.C. Health during this pandemic. We knew that there was some disparities in access to technology. And so we wanted to ensure that for those students who didn't have technology as we were distributing devices and internet access to students, that it did not adversely impact their grades. And so we made the decision for those students who are participating, it can only improve their grades. But if for some reason that students can't participate, they will not be penalized.

  • 12:32:35

    NNAMDIAccording to the Washington Post, 30 percent of D.C.'s 52,000 students lack internet access for computers at home. Does that mean that 30 percent of your students are not distance learning?

  • 12:32:50

    FEREBEENo, that is not the scenario. We did an assessment in March to determine, you know, who had devices at home, who had internet access at home. And we, from that data, landed on approximately 30 percent of our students needed additional support. And we used that data to inform our distribution of technology and hotspots. But we have schools that have, you know, over 90 to 100 percent access and participation. But we have some communities that don't have that same level of access. And we're working daily to ensure that we close those gaps.

  • 12:33:32

    NNAMDIIndeed, it seems as though students in the District's 123 public charter schools are faring a bit better. They have provided students with mobile hotspots and laptops or tablets. Are these types of resources being provided to D.C. Public School students?

  • 12:33:47

    FEREBEEYeah. So, across the District of Columbia, between D.C. Public Schools and many of the public charter schools, devices have been distributed to students. And hotspots have also been distributed to students who need internet access at home. What we're also supporting families with now is we're finding that there are multiple students in a household, and maybe there's one device. And students are having to share that device. And so we're also trying to be supportive in those scenarios to ensure that there's equal access.

  • 12:34:20

    NNAMDIThere was a timeline for the rollout of those devices. You established priorities and who would be getting what first. Who exactly has these devices now, and how long will the rollout take?

  • 12:34:31

    FEREBEEYeah, so we started with our high school students. And we started with our high school students, because we knew that their content was more complex. And also, many of those students needed to take advance placement assessments, which are administered by the College Board online this spring. We have now transitioned from high school to middle school this week, and then our elementary schools are in line after our middle schools.

  • 12:35:00

    FEREBEEAnd so we prioritized secondary, because we've been providing lessons via television and YouTube for elementary-aged students, which we started...

  • 12:35:14

    NNAMDIWe seemed to have dropped, for a second, Dr. Lewis Ferebee, chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. But we're still taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Are you and your child prepared to continue with distance learning if school closures stretch into the fall? Let's go to Ellen in Takoma Park, Maryland. Ellen, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:35:36

    ELLENHi, yes. I was wondering if they can talk about the free service selection of Zoom for the classes, since three attorney generals across the country have banned Zoom due to its lack of security, as well as privacy. Although MCPS has stated they have beefed up some of the issues on the security side, the privacy issues and the collection of private information in the privacy statement on Zoom has not changed. And it is in violation of FERPA and COPPA, the two laws that apply to K through 12 kids. And that's what the attorney generals are complaining about. And the option to opt out has not been widespread among MCPS students, at least parents. And the contract hasn't been shared by any of the parents who have asked for it.

  • 12:36:32

    NNAMDIDr. Jack Smith.

  • 12:36:34

    SMITHSure. I'm glad you asked the question. I wanted to speak to that. Zoom did not have the function, it's my understanding, to have a restricted, closed system, you know, just a couple of weeks ago. We have worked closely with that company to build a system, and you must have an MCPS account to sign in, which that gets at a lot of the situation that we want to deal with. It prevents Zoom bombing, and it prevents, you know, other people joining the classes.

  • 12:37:06

    SMITH(unintelligible) is right, that we are concerned about the privacy and we've had extensive conversations with the leadership of Zoom. And our chief technology officer and our in-house attorney have been talking directly with the leadership. And they are continuing to work together to create those written assurances that we're looking for.

  • 12:37:27

    SMITHAlso, it's created a waiting room, so that the teacher can allow students to wait in the room and review who's there before they allow anyone in the class. We've muted the students and disabled the ability for a student just to come in. And we want to keep, you know, a very good situation. Private chat is disabled, so students cannot talk to one another without the teacher being involved in that conversation. The teacher can remove a student from the Zoom class if they're creating a disturbance or mistreating other students.

  • 12:38:02

    SMITHBut we share all of these concerns, and we've been aggressively working on them, and we will continue to do so. The problem is, everyone has a favorite platform. All of those platforms have many of the same problems, when we look at them. And so that's been a big challenge, and one that we've printed twice now. This morning, these bullet points went out, and they went out a few days ago. We sent a privacy notice to all parents Monday morning. We've continued to communicate with our entire community about this.

  • 12:38:34

    NNAMDILewis Ferebee, you dropped off before you were finished making your last statement. Do you recall what that is? If not...

  • 12:38:41

    FEREBEEI just...

  • 12:38:42

    NNAMDIIf not -- go ahead.

  • 12:38:42

    FEREBEE...just want to ensure families know that we will continue to ensure that we provide equal access to technology, and we'll continue to provide our best effort to ensure that learning continues. We've primarily previously focused on content that was reviewed. And our teachers are now introducing new content on our platform and through our learning-at-home portal.

  • 12:39:09

    NNAMDIHere is Mike in Arlington, Virginia. Mike, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:39:14

    MIKEYes. Actually I'm in Annandale, but close enough. I taught for 33 years, taught 4th, 5th and 6th grades. And I want administrators to think about what they're going to do when the kids get back in school. I would take two months off, have kids read in learning carrels. I would try to get them out on the playground for an hour-and-a-half to two hours a day. I would relax.

  • 12:39:44

    MIKEThe first inclination would be to catch up, catch up, catch up. And that would be the worst thing to do. Some of these kids are going to be like coming out of the PTSD. I'm also a veteran. And they will be at home, under pressure from their parents, under pressure from the virus and what they've heard on TV. And I think they need to, for the first two or three months, to really just have an open kind of classroom in schools.

  • 12:40:16

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Well, I don't know. Gregory Hutchings, Jr., Dr. Hutchings, have you thought that far down the road yet?

  • 12:40:21

    HUTCHINGSSo, yeah, so actually we're talking about what summer is going to look like as well as what the fall will look like. And, you know, specifically, we haven't talked about having an hour to an hour-and-a-half of kids outside having physical activity. But what we are talking about is, how do we set up kind of a safety net for students between now and the fall, so that the learning loss is not as significant? And that's in making sure that we have, you know, these different learning packets that are working at home.

  • 12:40:51

    HUTCHINGSWe're already talking about what the summer learning experience is going to look like, because now it's not just going to be for students who were performing below grade level. Every student is going to need some form of summer learning or enrichment this summer. So, we're working through what that looks like, and that's going to be a part of our 3.0 continuity of learning plan.

  • 12:41:10

    NNAMDIMike, thank you for your call. Here's Ann, in Washington, D.C. Ann, your turn.

  • 12:41:16

    ANNOh, hi. Thank you, Kojo. I'm a piano teacher, and I have been teaching piano for 40 years. And so I have found that I'm able to teach over the phone. Almost every single one of my students is participating, and things are going really, really well. We use Skype a little bit, but it helps a little, but for the most part it's just the phone. And I am just really pleased to hear back from parents that they are very pleased with what's going on, that this is helping them cope with having the kids home all the time. The kids are starting on new pieces on their own and having fun with them. It's just keeping some happiness and learning in the homes. And I'm just amazed at how well things are going, and that kids can learn just via my voice and my direction.

  • 12:42:18

    NNAMDIOkay.

  • 12:42:18

    ANNI'm not sure that a brand new...

  • 12:42:20

    NNAMDI(overlapping) And you're doing a lot of this on the phones. Do you teach in any public school system?

  • 12:42:26

    ANNWell, I actually -- I do normally teach one class after school as part of the enrichment program at Horace Mann Elementary. I teach a little keyboarding class with a few students in there. And so I do that. But it's private. I'm a private teacher.

  • 12:42:45

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. And it seems that the telephone is working out very well for you, because you're dealing more with sound than with visualization, at this point. But thank you for sharing your story with us. I wanted to go to Lelah in Fairfax, Virginia. Lelah, you're now on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:43:02

    LELAHSo, I want to talk about...

  • 12:43:06

    NNAMDILelah, you're breaking up and there's a lot of background noise there. What's going on?

  • 12:43:13

    LELAHSo, I want to talk about...

  • 12:43:17

    NNAMDII'll tell you what, Lelah, turn down your radio to the lowest possible level, and just talk to me on the phone. See, Lelah, turn your radio all the way down, and just talk to me on the phone, because we're very interested in hearing what you have to say. You can turn the radio off completely, actually. Lelah, you still there? Oh, we seem to have lost Lelah. Maurice asked: what is available for visually impaired students? I'll go with you, Jack Smith.

  • 12:43:51

    SMITHGreat question. We just had a conversation the other day in our Central Office Team with our folks in the special education program about how the teachers -- and our teachers support staff in our building level and central office administrators have been amazing -- have figured out a system where they can do, for example, the Braille transcription using the telephone and the Skype -- and/or the Skype at the same time with the parent.

  • 12:44:25

    SMITHAnd this is the sort of innovation and ingenuity that we're going to need as we continue. And I just pray to God that we will be done with this, I'm hoping, in mid-May, but certainly by the end of this school year. But we're going to need to figure that out. But I was just having that conversation the other day, and they have figured out a way, if we can get the right tools in everyone's hands in the next few days, we can actually do this, we found, with our parents' and our students' engagement.

  • 12:44:53

    NNAMDILewis Ferebee, how likely is it that D.C. Public Schools will extend school closures beyond the end of this month?

  • 12:45:01

    FEREBEEI think there's a good chance that we won't return this month. The mayor's already communicated publically that the date that we had planned to come back on, April 27th, likely will not happen. And we are looking at now the conditions in which will need to be true for us to return to school. So, we'll continue to partner with D.C. Health under the guidance and leadership of Mayor Bowser, and either provide a specific date or the conditions in which we need to be true for us to return to school.

  • 12:45:39

    FEREBEEIt's important to know that the mayor and I have made a commitment that, if we were to see a strong flattening of the curve over a two-to-three-week period, if we were to relax on social distancing, public schools would be one of the first options that we will look towards as the heartbeat of our community.

  • 12:46:03

    NNAMDIHere's Tina in Washington, D.C. Tina, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:46:08

    TINAYes, good afternoon. My names is Tina Smith, and I'm calling to find out what is going to happen with the seniors that attend the public schools in D.C.? You know, graduation, prom, all of this season is for them, and they have no idea or no direction as to where to go.

  • 12:46:29

    NNAMDIChancellor Ferebee, any guidance there?

  • 12:46:32

    FEREBEEYeah. So, for graduation and senior activities, I am convening a workgroup of seniors from our high schools to get their ideas and thoughts and suggestions. We want to be as creative as possible to celebrate our seniors who've worked really hard in their pre-K to 12 experience. But we also are providing lots of guidance of what they need to do now to ensure that they are on track for graduation and, of course, completion.

  • 12:47:04

    FEREBEEWe recently announced a partnership with the council legislation that waves the community service hours requirements for graduation and other key components for graduation requirements. So, we believe that opens the door for students and their success. The other thing that I would lift up about graduation is we recently provided students with their graduation college and career guides, which provides a wealth of resources for students to be thinking about postsecondary success. So, I'm encouraging all of our high school students to look at this as a time period to get ahead.

  • 12:47:41

    NNAMDILewis Ferebee is the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. Gregory Hutchings, Jr. is the superintendent of Alexandria City Public Schools. And Jack Smith is the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. Thank you all for joining us. Joining us now is Suzanne Metz, a physical education teacher at North Springfield Elementary in Fairfax County, who has found a unique way to keep her students moving and gym class alive while schools are closed.

  • 12:48:08

    NNAMDIShortly after North Springfield Elementary closed, teachers started reading books live on Facebook. So, Suzanne had her own idea. Give a listen.

  • 12:48:18

    SUZANNE METZIt's going to be the eight days of spring break. Give yourselves some room. Mr. Kimble, this one's for you. I'm going to sing it. Here we go. On the first day of spring break, my teacher gave to me, one set of climbers. All right. Give me 20, here we go. One, two...

  • 12:48:42

    MR. KIMBLEFive, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty.

  • 12:48:51

    METZAnd a deep breath to get me through the day.

  • 12:48:55

    NNAMDISuzanne Metz, thank you so much for joining us. How did you get the idea for a virtual live stream fitness show?

  • 12:49:03

    METZHello, Kojo. Thanks for having me.

  • 12:49:05

    NNAMDIYou're welcome.

  • 12:49:05

    METZWhere I got the idea, I just love to be part of my kids' lives all the time. And with us not being able to be in school with them, I had to come up with a way to get into their homes someway, somehow. And I just love to be a little crazy, so I got my kids involved and we decided to join them every morning, live on Facebook, with a different workout. And it just evolved, and it turned into this awesome thing each morning.

  • 12:49:32

    METZWe brought up themes, and every day we did different things. And it's just so much fun. We've just been having a great time doing it.

  • 12:49:40

    NNAMDISo, I got to ask.

  • 12:49:42

    METZYes.

  • 12:49:42

    NNAMDIWho is Mr. Kimble?

  • 12:49:44

    METZMr. Kimble's our great music teacher. He thinks I have the worst voice in the world, but I think I have the best voice in the world. So, I try to sing as much as possible. As a PE teacher, I sing just about every day to my students.

  • 12:49:58

    NNAMDIAnd I hope Mr. Kimble was pleased by your singing.

  • 12:50:01

    METZHe loves it. He loves it. (laugh)

  • 12:50:04

    NNAMDIWhat kind of exercises and activities do you feature on this show? It's a little different than a traditional gym class, isn't it?

  • 12:50:10

    METZYeah. So, I try to do as much quick things as possible that they can do at home in their living rooms because I know that a lot of them can't get outside with their computers or their phones or whatever to do stuff outside. So, we do a lot of mountain climbers, a lot of jumping jacks. Today, we did running around socks and towels and cones.

  • 12:50:30

    METZWe tried to do -- I did -- I put exercises to "If You're Happy and You Know It." The other day we did, if you're happy and you know it do some jacks. So, we did jumping jacks. And then if you're happy and you know it do some squats. And we did some squats. So, I try to do some different kind of activities to get them going, get them moving and just, I want them to be happy and have fun while doing it. And their parents can do it.

  • 12:50:53

    NNAMDI800-433-8850. Are you making sure your children get exercise every day, just like they would in gym class? How are you doing it? Give us a call, 800-433-8850. We don't have a lot of time, so you better call now. Suzanne, tell us about your talented cast and production crew who help bring your live fitness show to life every day.

  • 12:51:15

    METZOh, let me tell you about them. They're awesome. I'm so glad they do it with me. My son who is 17, he's a senior at West Springfield High School going to William and Mary next year. He gets up every morning and does the videotaping for us, which is just awesome. And then my other son Cooper who is in 8th grade going to West Springfield next year, he is 14. He's a big lacrosse player, VLC 2024. He gets up -- what a trooper -- gets up every morning and does those exercises.

  • 12:51:43

    METZAnd not only that, to do those themes with me, today he dressed up ridiculous. He was wearing pink pants, with a Christmas-theme shirt. Today was mismatch day, and he did awesome. They are just troopers. They're awesome.

  • 12:51:59

    NNAMDIHe's 14, you say he gets up every day. Does he get up or does he have to be assisted to get up? (laugh)

  • 12:52:04

    METZWell, at 9:00 every day, I open their doors and say, good morning, sunshine, and they get up.

  • 12:52:10

    NNAMDIOh, good grief. (laugh) Before we go though, tell us about North Springfield Elementary. It seems like a unique school.

  • 12:52:18

    METZIt is the gem. North Springfield, I can't even tell people enough about it. Once you work there, you never want to leave. To get a job there is so hard because you don't want to leave unless you want to retire. The teachers there care so much about their students, and we are such a family, it is such a community. I have worked there for 15 years, and I will retire there.

  • 12:52:43

    METZOur administration is so fantastically unbelievable, I cannot say enough about it. Our kids are precious. They are just go-getters. They try so hard. They support each other. They support the teachers. I just cannot say enough about this school. It is just -- it is like a hidden gem. It's fantastic.

  • 12:53:04

    NNAMDIOn March 22nd, Suzanne, you and many of your fellow teachers did a three-hour car parade through your school's neighborhoods.

  • 12:53:11

    METZYeah.

  • 12:53:11

    NNAMDITell us about that, and how important was that for your community?

  • 12:53:14

    METZI could cry thinking about it. We cried the entire time doing it. One of our coworkers, Lala Adcock, she put together a text string that night, and was like, let's do this. And within three minutes, we put together 30 cars. The next morning, we met at school. We drove around our neighborhood for three hours, beeping our horns. Kids had made signs. They chalked up the streets. Parents were yelling, take them with you. Take them with you. It was so much fun.

  • 12:53:46

    METZIt was just -- I can't -- I just -- our school is just fantastic. It's just such a great community to be a part of. We had such a good time doing it, seeing the students' faces. That's why I cannot wait for next week to start our virtual learning. I can't wait to be part of the classrooms, to go in and do PE with them. It's just such a fantastic place to be.

  • 12:54:06

    NNAMDIHow hard has it been to be away from the school and your students for these past few weeks?

  • 12:54:11

    METZIt's been really hard. I actually just sent a message to our guidance counselor just yesterday, Ms. Maroka. And I just sent her a message, this has been really hard for me. It has been so hard just not seeing their faces every day and not being able to give them hugs. It's just been really hard.

  • 12:54:27

    NNAMDII can understand that. Suzanne Metz, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:54:31

    METZThank you for having me.

  • 12:54:34

    NNAMDIThis segment on educating kids in the age of the coronavirus was produced by Kurt Gardinier. And our conversation about pregnancy during the pandemic was produced by Julie Depenbrock. Coming up tomorrow on The Politics Hour, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld talks about WMATA's response to the coronavirus and how it could affect the budget for the year 2021. Plus, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on how the county's dealing with the pandemic and what relief may be in store for local businesses. That all starts tomorrow, at noon, on The Politics Hour. Until then, thank you for listening. Stay safe. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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