COVID-19 forcing school districts to go online


Kelly Brewer

Senior Emma Cramer doing her online school work at Starbucks.

Kelly Brewer, Social Media Manager

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Scott County, Pleasant Valley, along with North Scott High School, are considering going fully remote until the number of cases decreases.

Cases don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, according to recent data collected. “Iowa had a record 5,401 cases confirmed on [Nov. 13], for a total of 176,640. There are 1,261 Iowans hospitalized with the virus, also a record, with 246 of them in intensive care.

The new remote learning model will look significantly different compared to the previous remote learning model that was put into place in March of last school year. 

When COVID-19 hit the United States earlier this year, PV went fully online. In that model, teachers posted assignments to Google Classroom that students would then access through the app and turn in the assignments there. Teachers were required to be available during “school hours” in case a student needed one-on-one assistance. 

Students were not previously required to attend live video calls with their teachers and other students: one of the biggest changes coming to the new remote learning model. In a draft email sent out to staff, “teachers will provide a minimum 20 minutes of direct synchronous learning activity each period.” 

Students will be required to participate in lectures, group discussions, breakout sessions and demonstrations with the expectation that their cameras will be turned on. 

Teachers will also record one lesson a day for each course taught. The recordings will be used for student review and to make sure students are attending live streams. Live streams are only required to be 20-25 minutes, which leaves 20-25 minutes for students to receive further instruction from their teachers if necessary. 

Regardless, if a student is currently on a hybrid schedule or 100 percent online, all students will be required to follow the new remote learning guidelines. Junior Joel Lawler, has few problems with the new online model. “If the new online model is explained well and is effective, then I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “I don’t like how we’re required to have our cameras on though, it feels like an invasion of privacy.” 

Teachers have the opportunity to work from home if they have the equipment, but will not be allowed to take home any equipment needed from the school. This leaves teachers with children having to bring their kids into work if they do not have the proper equipment. Multiple teachers were emailed for their input, but no responses were received. 

Due to cases rising, the district faces challenges such as a lack of time to prepare for the online switch. Many questions are still left unanswered: How will students take assessments in 20 minute periods, compared to the normal 45 minutes? How will students with poor internet access succeed online? The district is trying to answer these questions as fast as possible. 

The district has the waiver ready if they decide to make the switch. The switch would occur sometime after Thanksgiving break, however, there is no confirmation that the district will make the switch to online.