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Georgia Schools Report Failing Marks Increase Amid COVID

Richmond County, Ga., Associate Superintendent Malinda Cobb reported during a school board meeting Tuesday that failing marks among virtual students are nearly double that of in-person learning students.

by Miguel Legoas, The Augusta Chronicle / November 18, 2020
(Shutterstock)

(TNS) — Richmond County, Ga., Associate Superintendent  Malinda Cobb  reported during a school board meeting Tuesday that failing marks among virtual students are nearly double that of in-person learning students.

Cobb said, in the first quarter, there were 21,217 failing marks. Among those, 4,643 came from the total pool of in-person learning students, 6,409 from K-8 virtual students, and 10,165 from virtual high school students.

A teacher survey sent out between Oct. 21 through Oct. 30 indicated that teachers are having serious issues with student and parent engagement. There have been several cases of teachers not being able to contact particular students in any format, and some students are not submitting their work for one reason or another.

With this in mind, virtual students who have not been engaged in the online learning have been moved back to in-person learning. Furthermore, school board president  Jimmy Atkins  strongly urged parents to take an active role in their children's education and ensure they are doing their work . He wondered about having officials go door-to-door to students' families who are not reporting in, and school board member  Wayne Frazier  agreed with that idea.

"This board and the staff of this system can only do so much," Atkins said. "We have outreached, we have done everything we can...we have emails, we have telephone numbers, let us know. But the bottom line is the accountability falls back on the parent and the student."

Cobb said part of the issue students and parents continue to have is with technology, either lack of or difficulty using. Some measures that are being implemented to fight this include: — Implementing the Seesaw Platform for elementary school students, which will allow better virtual interaction between students and teachers. — A phone number for students to call into a virtual conference if they are having issues logging on: 706-250-9643. — More available laptops for students in both models. — Buses equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots parking in residential neighborhoods after school for students to hop on and work online.

The teacher survey indicated some issues that teachers are needing help with as well. They include: — Students switching between learning models, which creates a strain behind the scenes. — More time to teach both in-person and virtual learning. This is mainly a high school issue. — Grading is a heavy workload and the need to have a grade synchronization system between the platforms. This is mainly a middle school issue. — Students practicing social distancing and wearing masks. This is mainly an elementary school issue.

The data also showed teachers believe many of the features of Canvas, the school system's virtual learning model, are working well. However, it also showed many have never used the Canvas online chat support or Canvas 24/7 hotline, which is something Cobb said they will work on with training.

Continued training and support for staff is a big concern. This is why, instead of students returning from winter break Wednesday, Jan. 6, elementary school students will now return Monday, Jan. 11, and middle and high school student will return Tuesday, Jan. 12. This will reserve Jan. 5 through Jan. 8 as teacher work days so they have more time to prepare for the upcoming semester and to maneuver any issues or changes that are being implemented.

Richmond County schools have been closed this week due to increased COVID-19 cases and quarantines. Next week the schools will still be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday breal, but school board president  Jimmy Atkins  reassured families and staff that schools will be re-open Monday, Nov. 30.

(c)2020 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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