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Parents not fans of virtual learning

Just two days into the new virtual school term, Charlotte County parents addressed the school board with their concerns and dislikes for the new way of learning.

Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) began Monday, Aug. 10, with 100% virtual instruction with the intention to convert to a hybrid teaching method on Monday, Sept. 14, where students will have some days of in-school instruction mixed with virtual lessons.

Crystal Shepherd, whose two children attend Phenix Elementary School, addressed the board expressing her disapproval of virtual learning and problems she and her children have encountered with Google Classroom.

“COVID is not going away.

However, the jump to virtual learning was a mistake. We have so many phone calls, texts, and app messages that we are always left wondering, ‘what’s next?,’” Shepherd said. “There is much confusion with there being Google Classroom assignments, worksheets, textbooks, workbooks, and YouTube videos to watch. I consider myself computer savvy, and Google Classroom is not easy to navigate.”

Shepherd told board members that she works full time, and by the time she finishes helping her children with their assignments, everyone is exhausted.

“My children and I were mentally exhausted,” she said.

Elise Marston said she also was having issues with the Google Classroom and balancing work and teaching her children.

“The Google Classroom app is a ‘disaster,’ to say the least,” Marston said. “Thankfully, I had the ability to download everything on Wi-Fi for ‘offline viewing.’ However, not a single video played, and none of the interactive pieces worked how they were designed to even though I tried it in both offline viewing mode, and while connected to my hot spot.   Parents keep being told that we were given packets, and we should read them. I have read the packet, and I have still had multiple issues.

“Furthermore, the teachers are saying we should not have problems if we read our packets. Did they get more than a packet to learn the navigation of these tools? The teachers are taking offense to the parents being frustrated, which is very unfair. We have every right to be frustrated.”

Marston also addressed her frustration that teachers are bringing their children to school with them.

“I am so happy to see that the teachers’ children are getting a good education. It is so wonderful that their children get to be in their classrooms and be taught by an actual teacher who was trained to use Google Classrooms. I am so happy that a select few children in our county had a successful day of learning yesterday. I pray that in the coming days, the rest of the children in this county will be able to get an education too.”

During the meeting, several school board members also spoke up to say that they had received several calls from parents who were having issues with either Google Classroom or connectivity issues.

CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason was quick to point out that virtual learning was new to everyone and that the entire CCPS staff had been and continued to work hard to make the best of the situation.

“I think remote learning is going well, overall,” Mason said. “We have had a large percentage of our students already submit assignments and participate in virtual meetings with their teachers. We have a small percentage of students with whom we have identified issues, and we are working with these students and parents on an individual basis, which takes time.

Michelle Francisco is one of those parents who had issues in the beginning but said that with time and a little patience, she and her children would be on the right track.

“Let me just say that Google Classroom is not my friend yet, key word yet,” she said. “I was trying to help my son to figure out something, and I deleted his whole piece, including the teacher’s questions. I sat here for hours trying to figure it out. Well, I’m happy to say that it was pretty simple to fix. If I had just looked instead a panicking, I would have had it fixed immediately. My point is for everyone that is struggling, please give this time because we are all in the same boat. Don’t fuss and complain. Sure, it’s aggravating, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will virtual learning. Take a deep breath and know it will eventually work out.”