Whether in-person classrooms are a thing this year or not, we know that a virtual classroom is going to be an option for families for the 2020-2021 school year. How will you know if virtual school is a good option for your family this semester? Here are some questions that you could ask your district to fully understand what a virtual learning environment might look like.
What learning management system will be used for the school year?
This is important because different LMS’ (Learning Management System) offer different capabilities. For example, Schoology offers a way to live teach, individual conferencing with students, and group work, as well as a way for assignments to be turned in and graded. Everything for the classroom can be housed in this one place.
How long will my child be working or expected to work during the school day?
Most districts are saying 4-6 hours a day. This is an estimate on how slowly or quickly your child completes assignments and how much live teaching, conferences, or group time there is built into the day. This should also include a 40-60 minutes special class time. Asking your district what that 4-6 hour school day would look like is a good question.
Can we do work at night?
This can be different district to district. If there is no live teaching during the day, but set times throughout the week that students have to log in, then doing school work at night could be an option for your family.
How will my child still be connected with their classmates?
Even though we are learning in an online environment students should still have regular contact with their virtual classmates. Group projects and discussions are still capable of happening.
Will my child still have access to the resources available to in-person students?
This is important because certain activities will require certain materials and resources. Making sure that your child has access to go pick these up or get their hands on the same materials is important to know when making a decision on virtual learning.
If my child receives services (special education, gifted, English Language Development) will they still have access to those and will it be online, too? What might that look like?
Having a child that receives services through the school district can add a special component to online learning. It can make it more challenging, but knowing ahead of time what that might look like and how that teacher will reach your child can be helpful.
How long will my child be learning in front of the computer during the day?
It’s important to know what type of work your child will be during. Will it be all on the computer, will there be paper/pencil work, will there be projects?
What type of school supplies when I need to purchase?
The reality is that you will most likely not need half of the items on the Back to School Supply List for virtual learning. Find out what you will need.
When we return to in-person, how will I know that my child is on the same track as students that have been in-person?
At some point students will all be back in the classroom. It’s important to be aware of how streamlined the in-person curriculum will be to the virtual curriculum.
Who will be teaching the online course work?
It will be impossible and unrealistic for a classroom teacher to be teaching in-person and online in the elementary setting. Make sure your district is having online and in-person taught specifically and not one teacher doing both jobs.
If online learning really isn’t going well what are our options?
You might be all in for virtual learning and then two weeks in you and your child are fighting and arguing about every single aspect of school. What options will your district offer if the virtual setting is not a good fit after all?
Making the decision to keep your child home for this semester will not be a simple one. There are so many components that go into each option. You have to make the choice that is going to be best for your family.