Virtual learning not working

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2020

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To the editor:

Below is an email I sent to the Suffolk School Board and superintendent.

I would like to bring to your attention many of the struggles my family is facing with virtual learning. I want to say the teachers have been amazing. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work they have put in, how frustrated they are, and how many extra hours they have been working to try to make this work.

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My children are honor roll students and used to love school. Since the spring, however, I have seen their light for learning dim to darkness. After the first week, I felt the need to highlight the many issues we are facing with virtual learning.

  • Internet Issues — my third-grader has only had one complete live lesson in five days. They are supposed to have a reading and a math live lesson daily, as well as live meetings for small groups two times a day. None of this has happened. Her teacher has had connection issues since day 1. She is teaching from Pioneer Elementary School. Every day her meetings freeze.
  • Attendance — we were told that attendance for live sessions was not mandatory; that lessons would be recorded, uploaded, and available for viewing for two weeks. This has not been the case for my seventh-grader. He could not figure out how to mute/unmute. The teacher took attendance. While he was in fact in the live meeting, he was marked absent. Why are teachers taking attendance, when we were told attending the live sessions was not mandatory?
  • Canvas — we were also told that the first week would focus on getting everyone connected and going over the Canvas platform. This also did not happen. We have been thrown to the wolves. Luckily, I work in IT and can figure most of it out for my son. What about the students who don’t have parents available to help? I can’t begin to imagine how lost they are.
  • Screentime — my 12-year-old spends at least seven hours a day in front of his screen. My poor 8-year-old spends five to six hours a day on her laptop. This is not good for their mental health!
  • Asynchronous learning — I was under the impression asynchronous learning would be assignments that could mostly be completed independently. This is not true for my 8-year-old. I have found myself spending a minimum of four hours daily sitting with her. I also work full-time from home in a corporate setting, and have found it impossible to juggle both of my kids’ virtual learning along with my workload.
  • Involvement — I am grateful to have a job that allows me to work remotely so I can be available to help my children. Other caregivers are not so lucky. I know there are many children who do not have the support they need at home. They are being left in the dust.

Please consider opening schools in at least a hybrid setting as soon as possible. Our teachers, students and parents are overwhelmed and struggling. If you truly feel that children are getting the same education virtually as they would in person, you do not deserve a seat on the board.


Karen Cornett