The Department of Education and Early Development has launched a website to support teachers and families with educating students at home.

Schools are closed through May 1 under a mandate from Gov. Mike Dunleavy due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The website, aklearns.org, offers tips and tools for families and for educators delivering distance learning.

“It’s very much homegrown because we want it to be responsive to what educators in Alaska need right now and… the needs are changing hour by hour,” said Tamara Van Wyhe, director of innovation and education excellence for the department.

Some of the resources should be familiar to students and teachers, she said.

“What’s kind of cool is a lot of these tools students are already using in a traditional school setting,” Van Wyhe said.

Google Classroom and Khan Academy are examples.

Van Wyhe said districts are supporting teachers and preparing for the delivery of instruction from a home setting.

“So what teachers are starting to do is think about what school might look like outside of my classroom walls,” she said.

The Department of Education wants to provide support, encouragement and resources, she said.

Some of the tools for learning from home include suggested schedules and lesson plans. The website also provides advice on taking breaks.

Some of the online resources are pretty innovative.

“One example is, it’s a site that has read-alouds,” Van Wyhe said. “So it’s famous actors and famous personalities reading aloud picture books, and they have some design folks working with them. So it’s this really cool visual display of the story that famous personalities are reading.”

While some school districts are looking at online instruction, those districts serving places where internet access is limited are looking at paper-based materials, according to Van Wyhe.

Teachers are still committed to providing education even though they are not physically with their students, she added.

“We are working really hard to provide an excellent education for every student every day, even though our locations are being disrupted,” Van Wyhe said.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at klong@newsminer.com. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal