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PECS students use social distancing creatively in virtual lessons

BRIGHTON – The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all aspects of life, including the academic year at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School.

The school closed March 13 for spring break. Its virtual instruction and distance learning began March 30 as the campus remained closed due to the pandemic. After the break, sixth-grade reading and science teacher Amy Carr kept her students engaged with new Wild Tribe Studios episodes and a series of fun Flipgrid “Minute to Win It” challenges.

Students cooperatively made episode 25 of their Wild Tribe Studios videos March 21 from the safety of their homes. They shared remotely what they learned about the coronavirus and posed questions they would like to ask Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump.

Student Yani Smith was glad the annual Florida Standards Assessments were cancelled because she didn’t have to worry about taking the tests. She also noticed how communities and state and national leaders are responding to the pandemic.

PECS 6th grade activists – These PECS sixth-graders, shown here earlier this year,  are among those involved in the Wild Tribe Studios videos as part of the school’s distance learning. (Photos Beverly Bidney)

“People are really stingy with their toilet paper even though it is a respiratory disease,” she said. “The question I have for the governor is why didn’t we take action sooner? Don’t you think it would have been different if we had taken charge at the beginning and not so late?”

Other students also weighed in with their opinions about the pandemic. Alyssa Madrigal and Jetta Osceola had similar questions for DeSantis and Trump and wanted to know why they didn’t act when they found out about the coronavirus’ impact in China. Madrigal saw hope amid the devastation.

“What I’ve seen is how the majority of the world is practicing social distancing,” she said.

The video also gave some CDC recommended tips, dubbed TRIBE tips for the school’s motto:

Trustworthy, Respectful, Individuals, Brave, Eager to learn.

The tips were simple and easy to follow: clean hands often, avoid close contact, stay home if you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wear a face mask if you are sick and clean and disinfect frequently.

Carr ended the video with a quote from Mother Teresa, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”

She added a few of her own words of encouragement.

“It’s time for this world to come together in unity to fight this virus,” Carr said. “Stay safe. Stay strong.”

Carr also urged her students to have some fun while they were in stay-at-home mode with Flipgrid “Minute to Win It” challenges. Flipgrid is a social learning platform that allows teachers to ask a question, or pose a physical challenge in this case, to which the students respond in short videos they can all view.

Students, and some members of their families, had fun with the one-minute challenges which included getting as many Cheerios on a strand of spaghetti, trying to get a cookie from forehead to mouth without touching it and showing off their dance moves. A few teachers also competed in the challenges.

In another challenge, kids had to move as many Cheez-Its, or other favorite snacks, as they could from one plate to another by grabbing it with the suction created by sucking through a straw. Even Carr’s mother got into the spirit of the game from Rhode Island. Carr herself got 31 Cheez-Its, her mom got 33. The students creativity was evident as some used marshmallows (51) and raisins (26).

The Flipgrid challenges were posted the week before virtual learning commenced, but Carr hopes to add one each week now that the students are back to their studies to give students a “brain break now and then.”

Wild Tribe Studio episodes will also continue during the social distancing and be posted every Friday  through the remote learning resources. 

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at