Last week I wrote about having to choose between in-person and distance learning for my two children. Three days after my post, my school district made the decision to start the school year out with three weeks of distance learning.
Now this is not the distance learning of the final quarter of last year – or so the district assures us. When we began staying home last time, the teachers had a week to scramble and set up distance learning. They had no clue what type of technology or internet access their students had and while the schools offered devices to those in need, many parents and students struggled with the technology and assignments.
A typical week in the old way involved a project for each class in the middle school. Sometimes it was just reading a passage or watching a video and answering some questions. Sometimes it was a project that took more time, but it was simply one project per class and most often there was not direct contact with the teacher.
Lexie’s classes were very simple and she was done quickly. Jase’s projects were harder, but even he said he wasn’t learning as much as he would had he been in class. The good thing is that this all happened in the final quarter of the school year. Topics were being wrapped up before review started for the state STAAR test that students needed to pass to advance to the next grade. Well, the test was cancelled so that left them spending time on projects but not with the intensity or wealth of learning that would have taken place had the students still been in class.
Overall it was a great effort by the teachers in such a short time period but I think we – parents, teachers and the older students – knew it wouldn’t work in the long term. And luckily, the district saw that and made changes.
Now when they return to distance learning, they will be actually attending classes online – 4 per day in the middle school and 3 on one day/4 on the other in the high school. Attendance will be mandatory. And there will be homework and tests. While we have seen the proposed teaching schedules, there are still many questions that haven’t been answered.
But even though distance learning has improved, I would still rather my children have in-person instruction. And if all goes well – if the district finalizes their safety plan and the COVID-19 cases are no longer on the rise – the kids will have the option to return to school after Labor Day.