Published March 28. 2020 07:18AM

Palmerton Area School District took the first step Friday toward its venture into e-learning during the COVID-19 shutdown.

District officials began distributing laptops on loan to those students who need them after surveying the families the last several weeks.

“We anticipate giving out 115 laptops,” Dan Heaney, the district’s director of technology, said on Friday.

Friday also began professional development for teachers for a distance education plan Palmerton is hoping to roll out April 2.

“Some of our teachers have been voluntarily providing optional learning activities this past week,” interim Superintendent Dr. Alan Lonoconus said. “We are going to roll out our plan to provide continuity of education for our students as permitted by the Pa. Department of Education.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Tom Wolf extended the statewide school shutdown through at least April 6 for staff and April 9 for students, but state education officials said that could be extended if the numbers of those testing positive for the coronavirus continue to rise.

“I think at the outset, it will be a lot of review from where we left off when the schools closed,” Lonoconus said earlier this week of Palmerton’s plans for distance learning. “We’ll gauge that progress as we move forward with any new material.”

In an update to the community, Lonoconus said the district would also be reaching out to seniors in the near future with additional guidance.

He also reminded parents and caregivers that the district’s grab and go breakfast program will continue throughout the shutdown.

“We’ve been averaging about 200 students per day,” he said.

Christine Steigerwalt, Towamensing Elementary Principal, helps distribute laptops to Palmerton students on Friday in preparation for the district’s rollout of distance learning next week. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Palmerton Area School District expects to give out 115 laptops on loan to students after surveying which families need them over the last few weeks. The district plans to begin distance learning efforts late next week following a multiple days of professional development. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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