DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - The closure of schools is excepted to last until April 8 because of the recent health pandemic.

In the meantime, teachers across the state have been busy altering their lesson plans and creating new activities for their students to do.

Decatur Public School teachers are no different from the rest. Oak Grove Elementary first grade teacher Taylor Hathcoat explained while the district has online resources for e-learning, the extended time of closure isn't something she was truly ready for.

"It's new to everyone, even veteran teachers who have taught for 15 to 20 year, they are like, well, we can just do the best we can."

Hathcoat said before the closure, her students were learning to read and master addition and subtraction. To help better understand, she's asked them to use household items like pennies to better understand the math questions.

"You've got to be creative, but also be realistic about the things they also have in their house," Hathcoat said. 

Oak Grove fifth grade teacher Abigail Cohlmeyer started recording her lessons and sharing the videos with her students.

"These kids are such as TV screen generation, so I'm hoping that they think oh my gosh, that's my teacher on my laptop or iPad," she said. 

The situation is a big adjustment for teachers, students and parents. Heritage Behavioral Health Center Child/Adolescent Manager Carrie Ray said it's important for parents to set a routine.

"At this point, kids are probably in vacation mode and parents are trying to get their work done or navigate their new role as home school teacher, so it's really important to kind of have some sort of normal in these kind of uncertain times."

Ray suggested creating a school-like routine for kids and setting up an area in a house designated for school work where kids can feel comfortable, but parents can keep an eye on them.

"Set the study or work time in the morning. Numbers have shown that our numbers and focus and energy is better in the morning and you'll be able to get more out of your kiddo," Ray said. 

Break school work into 25 to 30 minute increments, Ray suggested. She also said it's important for kids to get fresh air, go outside and stay in contact with their peers.

"Whether it's scheduling a play date through video chat or maybe finding a project they could do together," she said. 

The forced online learning is a learning curve for teachers, students and parents. Both Oak Grove teachers agreed they wanted the school work to be fun and they want parents involved in it.

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