Although Brookfield Local School District began distance learning, where students accessed assignments through a computer with internet access, on March 17, there still were students who had not logged in as of April 22.
“There’s fewer than I think we expected to this point,” Gibson said, noting that about 6 percent of students – about 50 students – who responded to a district survey said they did not have internet access.
School officials have dealt with technological limitations in various ways, such as informing families that live within Spectrum’s service area that they can get free internet access, and instructing people how to use their smartphones to set up mobile hotspots; creating a hotspot in the school parking lot; and delivering more than 150 Chromebook computers to students.
For students who have not logged in, administrators called their homes, “almost like a welfare check,” seeing if everything is OK first, then inquiring into why they haven’t logged on.
promo“The numbers increased, and we mailed letters to those that we haven’t heard from or couldn’t get a hold of,” Gibson said. “Those went out Monday (April 20).”
For families who do not respond to the letters, “we’re gonna put together hard copies, because we’re gonna assume that it’s a technology issue,” he said.
Because administrators have been focused on reaching students and giving them access to learning materials, the academic standards students are being held to have been less than what they would expect if they were attending school, Gibson said.
“We’re in a situation now where it’s hard to provide those in-depth, rigorous lessons when potentially students don’t have the support mechanisms in place at home to deal with education, let alone some of the family situations and social situations that they may be dealing with: parents losing jobs and struggling to pay bills and food and those types of things,” he said. “What a lot of districts are finding out, even the ones that have been online 1-to-1 (each student has a school-provided computer), is they’ve had to scale back, because they weren’t necessarily overwhelming students, they were overwhelming parents, because they’re (parents) dealing with everything else. We’re starting off slow. I didn’t want to overwhelm everybody at week one, jump in, ‘Let’s give you lessons every day and a quiz at the end of the week,’ is not the way to do this. We want to make sure we get everybody logged in and find those kids that aren’t logged in and provide them educational materials, and then gradually start ramping up lessons. We’re gradually gonna roll it out and bring up the pace a little bit.”