As FM area schools work on fall plans, experts highlight issues with remote learning

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 6:10 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - We are no closer to learning if students will be back in the classroom with school set to resume in a few weeks.

Yet, a survey from Fargo Public Schools showed a clear divide between what parents and teachers want this fall.

Schools rushed to switch their curriculum to distance learning after abruptly closing due to the coronavirus pandemic. The closure exposed inequalities.

“How can we be more equitable to make sure all of our students have the same amount of access and same amount of opportunity to get an excellent education,” Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi said last week acknowledging the inequities with remote learning.

Fargo isn’t planning to make a final decision until the end of the month.

Minnesota State University Moorhead surveyed 1,100 teachers and found an overwhelming number supported their district’s leadership in this situation.

“It’s impossible to take exactly what we did in a brick-and-mortar building and put that into an online environment,” Dr. Julie Swaggert said.

Swaggert is an associate professor at MSUM and said there are upsides with online learning. Yet, experts have noted some students have fallen further behind.

“Maybe some students that have less access. Maybe with more special needs, they can for sure be in school more,” Swaggert said.

A study by an Oregon-based education non-profit describes a COVID-19 slide with students going into the fall a full year behind on their math learning, compared to a typical school year.

“I think every student is different so that’s important to consider. We do offer both Zoom and in-center for our families,” Hope Pearson, director of the Sylvan Learning Center in Fargo, said.

Tutors are an option for some parents and the Sylvan Learning Center can help kids catch up.

“We’re working on things that they don’t already know, and we’re working on the things that they need additional help with, and those are aligned with the state standards with schools,” Pearson said.

Pearson added she hasn’t seen a difference in their tutoring over Zoom compared to in-person.

Minnesota is planning to announce its decision on whether to reopen schools this fall on the week of July 27, according to several published reports.

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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