MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA, Ala. — Just when it looked like the 2021-2022 school year was getting back to normal, schools across the country are struggling with how to keep students learning during a surge in COVID cases.
Remote learning has become a somewhat controversial topic and even teachers can agree that in-person learning is far more beneficial. And while many things are different, a lot of things are the same when learning from home.
Many businesses and schools face a similar issue right now... much of their staff is currently infected with COVID-19.
The Madison County School district is no exception.
Shaterra Miller, a 4th-grade teacher at Riverton Intermediate School, says, "We had to close down, we had to shut down but this is just temporary. They're trying to give the custodians the chance to come in and deep clean, give us a chance to deep clean."
The current remote learning period continues through Friday, January 28, 2022. In-person learning for students will return on Monday, January 31, 2022.
When thinking of remote learning, it may be easy to imagine grade school children sitting inside all day at the computer desk, but Miller assures that this is not the case. She says, "pretty much we made a schedule for them where they could do a little bit at a time each day or we left it open and said, 'hey, if you want to do it all on Monday, you go ahead and do it all on Monday, but if you need help with anything we are available two times per day."
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One of the biggest issues at hand has not been about the teachers and students getting on board, but more so the parents.
Miller shares, "Sometimes parents struggle helping their children with some of the things that we send home, the concepts and skills, so that's been a problem- making sure that parents are able to help them or they have someone at home to help them have someone to make sure they're doing the work, because that's the way that we're counting. Their attendance is through the work that they submit to us so."
On the flip side, other things have not changed at all, like the support both students and parents feel from these teachers. Miller says, "We're still available to them. They can communicate with us. Most teachers do not like to give out their cell phone number but I do because I want my parents to communicate with me and I can understand how challenging it is for them....in the middle of a pandemic."
This time is also giving teachers the chance to better teach their students - according to their needs.
According to Miller, "it's also given us time to look at data. Like, we have had time this morning to sit down and look at it and say, okay, you know, here is where we're struggling. They're getting this skill but they're not getting that skill. So we're struggling here. So when they come back we'll be more prepared to help them."
Lastly, one of the main concerns when it comes to remote learning is the social aspect of it all or well, the lack thereof... but Miller assures that there is still a social dynamic to schooling even from home.
"They can socialize- like they can post questions to each other, chat with each other, that way and even during the google meets they can chat with one another, even though we kind of discouraged it during our instructional time or google meets. They can do that," said Miller.
She also expresses the importance of these kinds of interactions...
"Part of learning you know, even in the school setting, part of learning is social learning. It's a very important part of learning. So we want to make sure that they have that avenue and like some of them will log on and they don't need help. They just want to see their friends. So I get that," said Miller.