distance learning

Distance Learning Discrepancies Coming to Light

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Distance learning varies from district to district, school to school, and teacher to teacher. Some parents say their students are doing well, but others worry it is not enough.

As distance learning develops, it is clear it is uneven and there are a lot of variables that make it that way.

Students and teachers at the School for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SET) in Kearny Mesa were doing distance learning the week after schools closed due to the pandemic. The charter school with fewer than 1,000 student, most of whom have computers and internet access at home, could put in place its distance learning plan quickly.

It is a different story for large school districts, like San Diego and Carlsbad Unified, where computers had to be distributed to thousands of students. San Diego Unified is still in the process of distributing 40,000 laptops.  

Teachers also are being trained in San Diego Unified School District, while doing distance learning with their students. Some teachers are ready to do live instruction, others are learning how to set up an online classroom where students get assignments and feedback.

Add to all that varying times for spring breaks. So, students started distance learning at different times.

“I know they're going through the process to get used to things, but I think they could do more," said Tai Tejeda, whose daughter is in the 6th grade in La Mesa. “She gets package work, and also she gets online and talks to her class twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Other parents say their children are doing a lot. 

“They have zoom meetings daily in the classroom and then they have their own homework,” said Tyler Gaurin, whose son is in the 7th grade at a charter school.  “It's pretty organized, and there’s a pretty decent amount of work.”

One San Diego County school district completely changed the way to provide distance learning to middle school students -- NBC 7's education reporter Rory Devine talked to a teacher for more on the story.

Another variable when it comes to distance learning is “professional discretion.”  Different districts have different requirements for their teachers and students. San Diego Unified, for example, does not require teachers to submit lesson plans and teachers are required to work four hours a day --- on a flexible schedule. The Sweetwater Union School District is requiring teachers to submit lesson plans on Mondays, and work specific hours during the rest of the week. Poway Unified is more structured. In the Chula Vista Elementary School District, teachers do not have to submit lesson plans, evidence, or documentation. On its website, the district writes, “At this time, the social and emotional health of our families is paramount. A key word during this extended school closure period is flexibility."

“All I can say is schools are managing the best they can with the technology they have,“ said Gaurin. “I think everyone is just trying to get through this whole thing.”    

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