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Parent concerns grow with virtual learning

More districts are opting to go online, causing technology questions for families
Posted at 6:00 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 19:17:27-04

BELLEVUE (NBC 26) - — Not every family may have access to internet or the technology their student needs as a district decides to go virtual.

For Judith Heikkinen, this means she's going to have to teach her kindergartner how to use a laptop.

"She's only five, she doesn't know how to spell really," Judith said.

Her daughter is part of the Green Bay Area Public School District, which sent her a computer to use for virtual learning. The problem for Judith is, it's the only one in her house.

"My daughter's never used a laptop, so I don't know how it's going to go. I'm going to have to be over her shoulder 24/7 when she's doing her homework or doing anything to do with school; and I have another child so it's not going to be that easy."

Judith adds technology isn't her only concern. She said her daughter is most sad about not seeing her friends and teachers as the district decided Monday night to begin the school year all online.

"The virtual learning, as we've said many times, will be better," said Eric Vanden Heuvel, the Green Bay Area Public School Board of Education President.

The decision to move online, not an easy one Vanden Heuvel said. With feedback from parents, staff, and kids, they're working to make this year an easier-go.

"I think my overall message would be to try and have grace, and allow kids to provide feedback. When they want to dive into it, take advantage of that; and when they are saying that they've had enough, they need a break," he said.

The school board will meet again August 17; and if the numbers are looking good, there could be a potential for kids returning to school.

"I'd love to wait and see what the numbers are on August 20 or August 28 and make the decision then, but we can't wait that long. So, it's truly my hope the numbers in our community continue to go down," Vanden Heuvel said.

But for now, kids in the Green Bay school district will have to get their technology ready.

"I feel it's going to be a learning curve, that we'll have to adjust. Not everybody is going to be happy with it, but we'll have to get used to it," Judith added.

Looking closer at advice for virtual learners, the Oconto School District has provided some tips. This include having your kids sit near the WiFi router for a stronger connection; and make sure students or family members are not using streaming services like Netflix or YouTube for less internet disruption. You can read more here.