LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Teachers across the valley continue to connect with many of their students through “distance learning." While some parents say it’s been a smooth experience, others say it’s been frustrating with every school approaching education a little differently.
Online learning enters another week, as Clark County School District schools remain shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. Experiences have varied for students. One parent says it’s been seamless for her older children but tougher for her third-grade daughter.
“It’s kind of a new world for her. She’s done some, but she much prefers being in a classroom with a teacher.
Rebecca Garcia is a CCSD parent and president-elect of the Nevada PTA. She says the varied experiences for her kids wasn’t unexpected, as they attend different schools, that have made different decisions.
“That meant one school could choose move to one to one Chromebook for all students and have technology set up and another building could choose that money to invest in something else,” she said.
She says this is the effect of AB 469 which passed in 2017. It gave principals at their individual schools more power in decision-making with budgets and operations. Garcia believes this has led to uneven results with distance learning district-wide with more than 350 schools.
“The idea that each school can set their own choices, creates some real challenges and frustrations for parents when school A is doing this, and school B is doing this,” Garcia said.
She says many principals made these decisions well before the pandemic to address pressing needs for their schools at the time.
“There wasn’t necessarily right or wrong, it’s what that school decided to do.”
Garcia says CCSD can improve on providing clear messaging to schools and parents to provide a cohesive response.
“That we have consistent policies, procedures and messaging so that all families know what’s happening,” she said.
For Jordyn Best, a first grade CCSD teacher, she has been able to conduct online learning for her students, but she’s concerned about problems other teachers may face.
“Not all educators have technology in their own home. A lot of us use what’s available at school for us,” she said.
Best says CCSD should not only address inequities among students, but teachers as well. She believes this has contributed to uneven rollouts of online learning from school to school.
“The district also needs to look at our at our employees and realize that we also suffer from inequities in our own technology at home,” she said.
Garcia says the state should provide more funding for education with Nevada ranking towards the bottom in spending per student in the nation.
“We have to look at our funding which has been so low for so many decades and that’s a huge reason why we didn’t have certain technology and systems in place,” she said.
Best says she understands parents may feel frustrated with the online learning issues, but says spend time with your child, especially if they’re young
“There’s so much learning that can be done through play that even at a higher level, the kids can be creating and figuring out their own ways of learning material or reviewing material in a way that is engaging to them,” she said.
CCSD says teachers have made more than 650,000 contacts with students since distance learning was implemented.
It released this statement saying:
“As CCSD said before submitting the distance learning plan to the Nevada Department of Education, the school closures are magnifying areas of inequity in our community, especially when it comes to access to technology and the internet.”
Over the past two weeks, schools have been working to distribute technology devices from their schools to students. CCSD has redirected funds to order an additional 46,000 Chromebooks. 17,000 of those have already arrived and are being prepared for distribution, with the remainder of the devices expected to arrive this week.
CCSD is also working with The Public Education Foundation to raise money to order 72,000 additional devices to help bridge the digital divide. Companies or individuals looking to donate to the CCSD Technology Fund should contact Ms. Kirsten Searer, PEF president at email@example.com.”