From zoom to slow motion in 24 hours: Grade 6 classrooms closed by COVID abandon initial remote plan for a lighter version | WJHL

School leaders cite various reasons for withdrawal that left some parents unhappy

JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee (WJHL) – A withdrawal of three hours of daily real-time Zoom lessons for a quarantined Grade 6 Indian Trail Intermediate School (ITIS) room has at least several parents disappointed with the change – which is is produced just one day in the two week closure.

“It kept her engaged longer and in the school routine and had more time for thinking, working with English, science and math,” Jennifer Mrozek said of the first day of remote quarantine of his daughter Tate of the Deer Hall team of about 75 students. This happened on August 23.

“It just seemed like a continuation of her normal day as much as it could be at home.”

Jennifer mrozek

And before the weekend of August 21, that was the plan for the remainder of the quarantine period. The teachers had developed a schedule with one hour blocks for English / Language Arts, Math and Science / Social Studies, followed by approximately 90 minutes after lunch “to finish homework” and answer questions. questions individually.

It’s the kind of distance learning approach, according to James Jacobs, director of ITIS, is the preferred product if kids have to be absent from the classroom en masse.

“We set the bar really high at the start, as we would love to do, it sounds awesome,” Jacobs said of that initial plan.

But the same day, the students opened their laptops for the 9:30 am “Block 1” zoom, parents received a message from ITIS management that the model was being replaced.

“(A) after getting feedback from parents, we understand that it can be very difficult for students to zoom in daily for each class,” part of the new post read.

Schools are “threading a needle” right now

Even though a quarantined fifth-year ITIS team stuck to its Interactive Zoom schedule three days a week, Jacobs said changing Deer Hall was the right decision after teachers heard from many families why the schedule was going to create difficulties.

Deer Hall teachers contacted parents from Aug. 20 and continued through the weekend, Jacobs said. What they heard from a number of them, he said, is that their families would struggle with the three-hour consecutive Zoom lesson requirement with two five-minute breaks.

James Jacobs, Director of the Indian Trail

“Some families share a hot spot and the parent uses it for work and the student won’t have the opportunity to get along,” Jacobs said. “Some students are home alone. Some students are sick with COVID and cannot continue. We have family members who look after the students.

“So so that they could be there all day, we quickly saw that it just wasn’t going to be possible. What we didn’t want to do was move a large group of students forward and have gaps for students who were unable to follow.

From August 24 until today, when three student teams totaling over 200 returned to in-person learning, the assignments were posted on Canvas – the school district’s main online platform – and the students should complete them independently. Teachers were always available for Zoom, by email or by phone with students who contacted them with questions about work.

Jennifer Mrozek said she wished ITS could keep the most interactive option for parents who want it, including her.

“If we can offer our children the most, the most opportunities to learn, and if there are children and parents who cannot do it, then if the withdrawal situation works for the masks, let – choose not to participate in face to face. Zoom in on learning without being penalized if they can get the job done the way it’s done now, which is just online, ”Mrozek said.

Jacobs said this scenario had been discussed but was not feasible.

“Students who weren’t live, how can we provide immediate feedback to those students? Jacobs said. “One of the things that we have found to be very successful is that a student can call a teacher, can zoom in on a teacher at any time, and the teacher is there to answer the question.”

But Mrozek said Tate missed out on what would have been the best fit for her, and several other parents told News Channel 11 the same. Mrozek said Tate’s learning style is more gym-oriented. class – even virtual.

“She needs instructions. She does best with the structure and the instructions for what to do.

Tate Mrozek asked for a few Zoom meetings and her mother said the teachers helped her get through anything she couldn’t understand.

Now Mrozek said Tate gets his job done in about 90 minutes. Two other parents said their kids also only spent an hour completing homework and much preferred the longer day with Zoom classes.

“I appreciate the availability of teachers,” Mrozek said. “You can get them one on one and that’s good.”

But if she had known that parents were voicing their opposition to the remote blocking program, “I wish I had ranged the side to keep it – it will be good for my child.”

“Red Fox” traces a different path

Another parent said he would have done the same, but he didn’t have to.

Sanjay Dharmapal’s son Taj was part of another quarantined team at ITIS that had real-time Zoom lessons every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and did not back down from that schedule. They booked Tuesdays and Thursdays for an approach like that used by Deer every day.

Dharmapal said his son Taj’s fifth-year team at Red Fox Hall provided a good experience.

Taj Dharmapal does his homework at home.

“He had Zooms virtually all morning Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Dharmapal said.

“He also had documents that we had retrieved the previous Friday that he was working on and that he did during the Zooms and the afternoons. It was very engaging, he was busy, but not too much. I thought it was very positive and helpful, especially for us under the circumstances.

Dharmapal and his wife observed Taj several times interacting with teachers and students. “It was great to see this interaction,” he said. “It made it look normal.”

Had he been faced with the Deer Hall situation, Dharmapal said he would not have been happy.

“I would have been disappointed and probably would have reached out to the school because I think it would have done a disservice to our students, their peers and educators,” he said. “The more engagement he got with his teachers and peers the more helpful.”

At the same time, Dharmapal said he understands the situation schools are currently facing. He said the system didn’t look ready on several fronts at the start of the semester, but he understands given the delta variant’s rapid growth trajectory. And the results for his family have been positive.

“I feel strong and at the same time I feel bad for them that all of this change and pivot has happened again and I feel really good the way they’ve handled it so far.”

Jacobs said one of the reasons the fifth-grade teams were using Real-Time Zoom more was that these kids had been in elementary school last year and had no experience with Canvas. He said fifth-grade teachers felt their students still needed more experience using inboxes and navigating the digital format.

He also said that a Red Fox team had very low attendance in their first two Zoom meetings, although it increased for the other two.

Gray areas are not a popular thing to explain these days

Jacobs said ITIS leaders will continue to research what works best. The school system will receive mobile hotspots that it can distribute to children without good internet access, which will alleviate a concern.

If more mass quarantines arise, he said there is always the possibility of more Zoom live courses.

“When we see that there is a way to improve, that’s what we’re going to do,” said Jacobs. “This is where these constant conversations with teachers and families are going to let us know, ‘okay, this is working, this is not working, what can we do to improve ourselves’. “

Jacobs said it was masks, distance learning, or one of the many other tough calls institutions like schools have to make right now, sometimes it seems parents or other parties stakeholders tend to see things in black or white.

“We care about the children,” he said. “And we really want the kids to be here. This is a big problem for us.

“I don’t want to be on this side or that side, I want the kids to be here and I want to take care of them. But it’s hard because, again, people are so divided, and they’re so passionate about their division. There is no such gray area. We need this. We need people to say, “You know what, Dr Jacobs, you love your kids, you know your school, you’re going to take care of them the best you can. If that’s what you can do, I believe in you, I know your teachers will do it. This is what we need. This is a big problem for us.

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