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Local science teacher Rick Crosslin, district scientist in residence for MSD Wayne Township, gives us a look at his fossil collection and teaches us how they are formed.

You can find more of Rick’s science experiments on Youtube.

More about Croslin: He has received numerous awards recognizing him as a classroom teacher. He was the host and executive director of the Emmy award winning show, Indiana Expeditions, a WFYI PBS science television program where he shares his expertise and motto: Science is for Everyone! He was also host and executive producer of The Great American Total Solar Eclipse 2017.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With virtual learning and the pandemic, there’s an increase in screen time for kids and that has some parents concerned about their children’s eyesight.

Eye strain is the biggest concern. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children said more parents are bringing their kids in to get their eyes checked.

At this point, experts said it’s just too early to know the full impact all this extra screen time is having on kids, however, eye doctors in Indianapolis are optimistic it won’t negatively impact children’s eyes in the long term.

“The normal visual system doesn’t get eye strain in children. In adults it’s different, but in children the normal visual system does not get eye strain,” said Dr. Kathryn Haider, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Riley Hospital for Children.

Although kids are less likely to get eye strain than adults, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than two hours of screen time a day for children. This two-hour limit does not include e-learning, or emotionally-connected activity, such as FaceTime with family. Doctors said children with consistently more than two hours a day of screen time are more likely to have other issues, such as obesity.

When it comes to eye strain, doctors recommend kids and adults should take some simple steps to help, just to be safe.

“[It’s] called the 20/20/20 rule. So after 20 minutes of doing any screen time, you take a 20 second break and you look away for about 20 feet,” said Dr. Haider.

Doctors said they start to see eye strain with age. So, it is likely to begin in people who are young adults and continue to increase through adulthood with the use of screens. Dr. Haider also does not recommend people use blue blocking glasses and instead said people should simply invest in a good pair of sunglasses for when they’re outside.

BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) —  Whether children are going to school in-person or learning at home, they still need to eat. With a lot of kids on free and reduced lunch in Indiana, school districts are doing what they can to make sure all students are being fed.

At Beech Grove City Schools, their biggest obstacle lately has been getting students to actually pick up their food. The district’s students in high school and middle school are on a hybrid schedule and are only at school in-person two days a week. The other three days a week, kids are working from home. However, with around 79% of the district’s students on free and reduced lunch, the Beech Grove City Schools said a lot of kids aren’t actually taking home the food they need for e-learning.

“It weighs pretty heavy in your heart, to know that there are kids out there, that need to be coming and getting the meals and they are not coming to get them,” said Dulcie Holcomb.

Holcomb is the director of Dining Services at Beech Grove City Schools and said the meals are packed with love and she wants every child who needs them, to take them home.

“It’s frustrating because we know what it is like to see them when they come in and they are hungry,” Holcomb said while holding back tears. “We just want them to come and get it. Just come and get the food, it’s here, it’s waiting for you, we are waiting for you. We can’t wait to see you and we need to make sure that they are getting what they need. That’s why we offer as many opportunities to come and pick up the food that we can.”

Students doing all e-learning can pick up their meals for the week at the Beech Grove High School on Wednesdays between 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Kids going to school on a hybrid schedule can take several days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner home at the end of their second school day. Parents can find out more about the food schedule here.

Photo Courtesy: Beech Grove City Schools

“All they have to do at the end of the day is come through the cafeteria and we will be ready for them,” said Holcomb.

When students do eat at school, young children will eat in their classrooms and older students will eat in the cafeteria. The district said the cafeterias are now spaced out and decked out with COVID-19 safety reminders, along with extra sanitation and staff will be distributing the food.

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s back to school, virtually, for a lot of kids across Indiana. However, for many districts this e-learning has come a long way since the spring, utilizing new technology and educational online programs. 

At Greenbriar Elementary School in Washington Township, teachers and students have been back to virtual learning for a week. The empty hallways and empty desks are a sign of the times, but the classrooms now have staff inside teaching virtual classes. 

The district has provided either iPads or Chromebooks to all students. The first few days of school were about learning how to do e-learning, especially for young students where this is their first experience with school.

Brittany Reedy is a teacher at Greenbriar Elementary School and now connects with her first-grade students online. She shows them how to use the zoom-like technology, mute their computers and sit within the camera screen. She’s making the new normal of teaching and socializing with students online, work as well as possible.

“We are really thinking about what questions are the kids going to have? What is going to come up that we need to prepare for ahead of time? So now, it’s just doing that virtually. So, as far as the electronics and the technology, thinking about what might they not know how to navigate,” said Reedy.

Getting 18 kids to listen, miles apart is a challenge. While it’s sad for everyone not to be in person, schools are using iPads and Chromebooks to make the best of a bad situation.

“Just being back with a teacher and starting to learn those routines and those procedures, just what it is like to be in a somewhat social environment, even though it is virtually. That is really where our kids are learning. So it is just be here with us now and working on what we can,” said Reedy.

Brittany Reedy teaching 1st Graders at Greenbriar Elementary School

There’s still math, science and small groups for reading. Plus, new interactive online programs such as Lexia and Dreambox enable teachers to educate at a distance. The students even learn about internet safety and embrace the change.

“Initially, it’s introducing the technology and application. And then the next phase is helping them understand even though I am communicating online, not all of my school work is going to be online,” said Greenbriar Elementary School Principal, Tim Blom

Currently, it’s not clear when kids will be back to school in-person in Washington Township. However, Blom thinks this time away will have some benefits.

“It is difficult to be in the building without kids, but I also feel a great sense of pride when I see how hard our teachers are working to still connect. Get creative in their classrooms and be engaging. I am very hopeful at this point that we will get through this moment of time and be stronger for it,” said Blom.

That’s the mentality teachers like Reedy are taking, still, they miss seeing their students in person.

“I hope that we get them back in the classroom soon,” said Reedy.