Is online learning making the grade for Vermont kids?

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 6:08 PM EDT
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There's no school but learning continues for students stuck at home-- education has moved online. So how is it going? We sent our Ike Bendavid to find out.

We got mixed reactions from parents on the success of online learning. But the school system in Burlington says they are working to keep students engaged.

A trip to the park now counts as a gym class.

"Obviously they are not doing as much as they would if they were in school," said Katlin Bibens, a Burlington parent.

Bibens has three kids at home, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade and they all have different learning schedules.

"It's been weird," she said. "We are figuring out new routines."

She points to issues with getting her younger kids' work done. They have paperwork that was brought home.

"We don't have a device that's really going to work for my kindergartner," Bibens said.

Her sixth-grader has a laptop but that comes with some issues of its own.

"A sixth-grader will willingly sit in front of a computer all day if you let them. It has been tricky trying to navigate with these two," Bibens said. "I really trust my sixth-grader to do it all independently. I can't help."

"It's been rough," said Nat Townsend, a Burlington parent.

Townsend has four kids ranging from preschool to sixth grade at home with him.

"It's been difficult but the teachers are doing a really good job of keeping contact," Townsend said.

He also feels that for his oldest son, technology has been helpful. But there's only so much that can be done outside of a classroom.

"My son just had his first video conference with a couple teachers which was really good because they need that kind of support," Townsend said.

"I think some of the kids will be excited to go back to school," Burlington Schools Superintendent Yaw Obeng said.

At a press conference Monday, Obeng said to help increase productivity, more laptops are on the way for students who don't have them yet and every student should have internet access. He says right now his main focus is students falling behind.

"The primary responsibility from me is looking after the health. As long as students are engaged in some sort of activity to keep their brains functioning, I am not concerned about level of achievement right now," Obeng said.

It's currently unknown whether students will have to make up the missed time, but as students and teachers adjust to this new way of new life, Obeng asks for patience.

"People also need to understand that our family and staff has family and challenges, as well," he said.

Obeng also mentioned that, as of now, they are not canceling any end of the year events like graduation, but he wanted to remind students to be social distancing.

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