Remote Learning Made Easier With Homemade Desks Donated to Elementary Students
On Monday, two Eugene-Springfield community members built and delivered 30 homemade desks for students at Two Rivers-Dos Ríos Elementary School. Now the team has donated a total of 50 desks to help Springfield students work from home during comprehensive distance learning.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Oregon students are participating in comprehensive distance learning. The switch has led to many learning difficulties such as a lack of internet access and the need for student meals. But an overlooked challenge for students to have a successful learning environment includes families’ ability to afford and provide a proper workstation.
Two Rivers-Dos Ríos Principal Charlie Jett said he learned of the need for desks after teachers reported many students logging on for school while sitting on their couch or still in bed. And Jett said the cozy environment has led to many kids falling asleep while on camera.
“It's a lot to ask for as adults who have had to transition to working from home,” said Jett. “But to ask a five [or] six year old—kindergartners and first graders—to, ‘Hey, get up and let's get dressed for school, even though you're not going to school. And then let's have the workspace here so they can have that differentiated space and the idea in their mind of: here's where I play, here’s where I do my school work.’ And that’s hard.”
That’s where Andrew Moreland and Conrad Hulen come in. Eight years ago the two created their own design company Robert Carlton Design Group.
Moreland said they were inspired to create desks for students after he randomly came across a video of a carpenter making inexpensive desks for his kids to use during remote learning.
“I was watching a YouTube video actually of a woodworker and saw the designs for a desk and thought, ‘Our community could probably use these because if other parents are struggling, [our parents] probably need some help,’” said Moreland.
From there, he contacted his neighborhood school, Two Rivers-Dos Ríos, in Springfield, to see if there was a need for desks. With some donated supplies from a local Jerry’s Home Improvement Center, the team spent about an hour creating each desk.
According to Jett, about 55 students didn’t have desks. That’s about 14% of the school’s population. But with the help of Moreland and Hulen, the need for desks has decreased to about five students.
Although Jett said attendance has been steady, the school’s absentee rate has been as high as 15% this year. But with more students having a proper workspace, he hopes for an increase in attendance.
“If the kids get [desks], it's exciting—‘I got a desk,’” said Jett. “We have some families that are starting to paint theirs. They're painting them and making it a project. I've got photos from families that [are] really excited and asking them to please send this photo on to Andrew and Conrad and let them see how amazing this is.”
Jett hopes the excitement around kids getting the desk will then transition to students being excited to attend online learning.
Moreland and Hulen encouraged other community members to lend a helping hand and support students and families during the pandemic.
“We know it's been a bad year for a lot of folks,” said Hulen. “Community’s about more than just us—it's about the totality of us. And it was just a nice call to action that Andrew found these plans. And we wanted to put them to work and share them so other people could also make space in their own homes if they need.”
Two Rivers-Dos Ríos administrators are working with families so they can pick up their desk while following COVID-19 protocols.