In Online Classes, Teachers Take Attendance Via Engagement

With the transition to online learning to finish out the school year amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, teachers have moved to taking attendance by engagement rather than a traditional roll call.

by Kathleen Bolus, The Times-Tribune / May 26, 2020
School closings are having a ripple effect on the lives of vulnerable families.

(TNS) — With the transition to online learning to finish out the school year amid the pandemic, teachers are taking attendance by engagement rather than a roll call.

“We recognize that families are facing unprecedented challenges. It’s not feasible for everyone to be present at 10:15 on a Thursday,” said Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon, Ph.D.

Schools across Pennsylvania began mandatory online learning after Gov. Tom Wolf closed schools April 9 to stop the spread of COVID-19. The swift transition has fundamentally changed not only how school districts offer education but how students show up for and complete their lessons. Districts are using programs provided by the state as well as Google Classroom. Students log on to the programs to complete uploaded assignments. Some teachers, like at Abington Heights High School, are given blocks of time for their classes.

Taking attendance is now more than noting who shows up for class.

Riverside is holding students accountable for their mandatory work through the completion of their assignments, said Superintendent Paul Brennan.

Attendance has improved at Abington Heights since mandatory lessons began, said Mahon.

Teachers monitor attendance closely and reach out to families or students who are not regularly logging in.

“We are working with families to make sure they’re engaged,” he said.

Valley View is also asking why students aren’t logging in.

Families might not have access to technology. If not, Valley View provides Chromebooks, said Superintendent Michael Boccella, Ed.D. If they don’t have an internet connection, schools are finding access for students or, in some cases, dropping off school work at home.

“We really felt in this uncertain and scary time we’re in, we felt an ethical and moral responsibility to check on our kids as we transition to the online platform,” Boccella said.

He said calls to find out why students weren’t logging on resulted in also discovering they not only needed technology or internet service, but food and other resources that schools can supply.

“More than anything, we want to make sure our kids are OK,” Boccella said.

©2020 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. 

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