A rapid response to COVID-19: one district’s pivot from technology integration to distance learning

Lana Peterson, Cassie Scharber, Amy Thuesen, Katie Baskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose: In March of 2020, Minnesota schools were mandated to transition to distance learning to slow the spread of COVID-19. The charge of providing equitable and appropriate remote learning to all students gave administrators, educators and non-academic staff a few weeks to completely redesign education. This paper aims to describe one district’s experience in planning and offering distance education and build precedent other educational leaders may use in future designs. Design/methodology/approach: This case study documents how one rural K12 district leveraged their strong foundation of technology integration and created crisis remote learning solutions for its most marginalized student populations including special education students, English learners and financially disadvantaged students. Findings: This study shares examples of how this district prioritized relationships and the well-being of students and staff and outlines practical strategies for equitable distance learning that should be considered during and beyond emergency remote teaching. Originality/value: This paper provides just-in-time practical advice for K12 administrators and educators on navigating crisis distance learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-459
Number of pages9
JournalInformation and Learning Science
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jul 27 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
District leaders are aware of the geographical and socioeconomic barriers Austin students face including access to school-provided meals and the internet to engage in distance learning. So, 14 different sites across the city were established for lunch and breakfast pick-ups staffed by paraprofessionals and non-instructional staff with financial support from Hormel Foods. For those students without internet access, 5–12 building principals worked with families to identify free local internet services both in town and in farming neighborhoods. The Hormel Foundation also collaborated with the Austin Public Library and APS’ district tech services department to issue 200 Wi-Fi hotspots to students in Austin’s public and private schools at the end of April.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • COVID-19
  • Case study
  • Crisis remote learning
  • Distance learning
  • Pragmatic guidelines
  • Technology integration


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