COVID-19 might have closed schools, but local principals say education is still going on.
As Volusia County Schools dives into the second week of distance learning, local high school principals stressed one point: Students should stay on a schedule.
Mainland High School principal Tim Huth and Seabreeze High School principal Joseph Rawlings both said the initial rollout of the online education plan — which uses platforms like Canvas and Edgenuity — has been successful, minus a few slow access issues the first couple of days. No, questions have tapered and both students and staff continue to adjust to this fully virtual way of learning.
“Education is going on," Huth said. "Instruction is being delivered, and we have been working with the teachers to assist in any way we can with their lessons for the next rest of this month, all the way up to the 30th.”
Both schools are distributing laptops on Tuesday, April 7, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.
Huth said some students, especially those who learn better through hands-on methods might find this online instruction challenging, but that teachers are taking that into consideration and willing to help. In contrast, there are students who only need to read or hear a concept once before grasping it entirely.
“As we’re moving through this first week, we’re learning how we need to pace ourselves with all of our students," Huth said.
Rawlings said many of his students are accustomed to using technology in their classes, as close to half of the teachers delivered instruction through Canvas before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, being at home, students may struggle with procrastination and self-motivation, he said.
“School is still going on," Rawlings said. "It’s just in a different way now.”
A science teacher at Seabreeze, who preferred his name not be used, said as of Monday morning, he had connected with 102 of his 161 students. His class used Canvas before the schools shut down because of the pandemic, and he said online work has always been tough with his students. They have a tendency to procrastinate and then do all the work in a couple of all-nighters.
Students can't do that with distance learning, he said.
“They’re going to have a backlog that might be insurmountable,” he said.
The teacher said parents should make sure their children are going online, and then encourage them to reach out to their friends to do the same. These grades will matter. He's worried about the students who haven't logged on.
“They’re just treating this as another crazy disruption to the academic year, so they don’t see that this is an assignment that’s going to be banked," he said. "There’s no way that these courses are going to be forgiven."
Schedule your school day
So what should a schedule look like? Huth said students should be working for four to six hours a day and circle back at night if needed to revisit lessons that they need extra help on, just as they would during a normal school day.
Rawlings recommended students dedicate 45 minutes to each subject every day. He also recommended parents check in with their children every day and make sure they have been in contact with their teachers. He said he knows this is a challenge for parents, but despite the stressors, it's critical they stay on top of their children's education.
“Our teachers are reaching out," Rawlings said. "They just need to respond when the teachers do.”
Huth said parents and students should be patient and flexible.
“It’s going to be an activity that’s not perfect at this time, but for some of the students that do go on to post-secondary [education], this is going to be an environment that they’re going to learn in," Huth said. "So they’re getting a little bit of a taste of it at an early age."