Teachers, Students Continue Adjusting to Distance Learning

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With South Florida schools closed, many campuses have become feeding sites where students and families can pick up grab and go meals.

Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry, so the feeding programs have become even more vital for local school districts while students are learning from home and teachers are teaching from home through distance learning.

“Look, I recognize that this is inconvenient, it’s something very very new, and there's a certain segment of our workforce that will take a bit of time to migrate, transition to this new arena, but there’s no way of hiding from it,” said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Zeny Ulloa teaches second grade at Kendale Lakes Elementary School.

“We’re just all in this together and we realize that those that are a little more technologically savvy can help those that aren’t but to think this is definitely doable,” Ulloa said.

All MDCPS teachers went through two days of distance learning training last week. Expectations for how this brave new world is supposed to work were spelled out in a letter of understanding between the school district and the teacher’s union. Carvalho says now teachers will be interacting more with students through their virtual platforms.

“There’s also monitored interaction by principals of teacher activity, our expectation is a fair balance between teacher-directed interaction side by side with digital access by the students,” Carvalho said.

“There are teachers that have 6, 7, 8 periods, so you’re talking about them having to interact with hundreds of students, which is a little unrealistic even in the digital platform world,” said United Teachers of Dade president Karla Hernandez-Mats. "And we’re also concerned about how this is widening the achievement gap for our students with disabilities, our minority groups, children that are impoverished."

Hernandez-Mats says distance learning is a social experiment which is revealing inequities in education not always seen in a classroom.

“There are a lot of children that are still not logging on to the platform, there’s children still unaccounted for, so we are worrying about those children that have not been able to access any type of digital learning,” Hernandez-Mats said.

Carvalho said it’s vital that parents call their child’s school and pick up a free laptop if they haven’t already done so.

Distance learning is likely here to stay for the rest of this school year.

“At this point, I believe that a return to school this school year, into physical schooling, is becoming a very unrealistic proposition,” Carvalho said.

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