UPDATED: March 17, 2020, 1:10 P.M.By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) With public schools out on their normal spring break, an extended one, or closed indefinitely, parents may be wondering what they can do to help keep their students focused on learning.

Rena Honea, President of the Alliance AFT, representing Dallas ISD teachers sums up what many are saying.

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“In my 40 years of educational background have I ever seen anything like what we’re experiencing today,:” Honea said.

While school buildings will be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, school districts in North Texas including Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Irving, Mesquite, Carroll, and Keller, said they’ll be providing online instruction for grades K thru 12 as early as this week or next.

Honea says this can be challenging for the elementary and special needs students.

“Many of our students have to have that one on one interaction to be able to comprehend, to be able to understand exactly what is asked for. In our secondary schools, that is not as much of an issue,” she said.

Rosalyn Petry, a teacher for 14 years, has spent the past seven years at the Texas Virtual Academy at Hallsville, a public district school operated by Hallsville ISD in east Texas near Longview.

Rosalyn Petry – teacher (CBS 11)

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She says there are a number of educational websites parents can check out for elementary school students, including the Khan Academy, Reading A to Z, and IXL.com to name a few to keep them focused on learning.

“It’s really amazing all the resources that are out there and so don’t be afraid to dig into Google, fun math things for 4th graders or science experiments for fifth grade in Texas,” said Petry.

One concern in Dallas is that not everyone has access to the web.

Dallas ISD sent home with students a list of educational TV programs students can watch.

Educators say any student, regardless of age, can also just read a book for at least 30 minutes, then either write about what they read or discuss it.

On Tuesday, the Barbara Bush Foundation launched an educational toolkit to help parents and children learn from home. The foundation by the former first lady has always focused on promoting family literacy.

“The Barbara Bush Foundation has been a leading voice in family literacy for 31 years,” President and CEO British A. Robinson said. “We feel called to share our expertise so that parents can step into the role of teacher with confidence, helping their children continue to learn and grow while schools are closed.”

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