By Rebecca Kussin
With the hybrid educational model in full swing during the first two weeks, some students have opted for the Alternate Virtual Learning program for students who want to learn from home for this school year.
Each class is using Google Classroom as its primary platform. On the homepage of each Google Classroom is a link to a Google Meet "live stream" of the in-person lesson. Full-time remote students will be logging on from home every day––unlike hybrid students who do so every other day. At-home learners still follow individual schedules, as well as a regular school day with nine periods. Those who choose this model will be able to talk, see, and hear as these classes proceed in the building.
According to Mr. Michael Harrington, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, “Currently around 400 students [in the district] will start the school year virtually. Those numbers may increase slightly if we decide to transition to a full in-person model.” Having access to your personal Google Account is essential because Google Classroom and Google Meet will be used every day. Classwork, homework, and other information can be found under each teacher’s tab on Google Classroom.
The Alternate Virtual Learning Model has very few differences from the Hybrid Model. Students will still be expected to attend classes on time, do homework, and participate. Grades are still essential, and at-home learners get graded in the same way as Hybrid students do. Students can track their progress on Infinite Campus. Also, Alternate virtual learners will have support from guidance counselors, social workers, and other staff. Each teacher has his or her extra-help policy, and remote learners will still get to take advantage of the opportunities that come from attending.
Many students feel that this model works great: “[I]n such a time of uncertainty the last thing I want to worry about is being exposed to the virus at school. I feel like if I were to go, I would constantly be worried about touching things or being too close to people, which would distract from my learning experience. I’m confident enough in the online learning system that I know I will be more focused if I am learning from home. I think my parents just want to be cautious about being around other people, and if we have the option to avoid being put in the situation then we would rather do that,” said Liliana Davis, a Kennedy senior who opted for full-time remote learning. Online etiquette is important, as well. Remote students are expected to pay attention and to keep their cameras on when they join a class.
Overall, the Alternate Virtual Learning model is a good way for students to learn during times of uncertainty and fear. This program helps preserve daily interaction during the pandemic. The 2020-21 school year will be more challenging than those in the past, but if everyone stays patient and understanding, there will be a success for each person in the Cougar Nation.