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School at Home: Tech issues

Miguel Octavio
Created: May 19, 2020 10:44 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Distance learning was a logistical nightmare to begin with. School districts had to ensure families had internet access and a device but they also had to ensure they knew how to use the devices and software available.
 
The first day of distance learning was anything but smooth for several families. Schoology and Seesaw, two of the biggest online platforms, crashed from too many users.
 
But families like Staci Fay's didn't have internet.
 
"I've got kids in elementary school, middle school and high school," Fay said.

ABC 6 News caught up with her since the first day of distance learning.

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"That was challenging because it was slow and the kids were all nervous," Fay said. 
 
Fay lives in a rural Byron home where she's since gotten internet access and enough devices for each child. 
 
"It took a huge weight off of my shoulders," Fay said. 
 
But it doesn't mean all problems have gone away.
 
"The lessons are all coming across Google Classroom but they're all coming across in different ways," Fay said. "Some are coming in documents, some are coming on YouTube videos, some are coming in Google slides."
 
And turning in assignments isn't always easy if they're not familiar with the online tools. 
 
"I don't know how to navigate through the computer the way the kids do," Fay said. 
 
But as anything with technology, things can malfunction.

"Everything freezes... it comes to the point where you say forget it because it's not working," said Rochester mom Jessie Davis. 

Frequent crashes mean her son is behind on work and missing out on lessons. 

"I'm not going to be driving to Stewartville every other day just for them to try to get it fixed," Davis said. 

Districts and organizations worked together to bridge the technology gap and distribute supplies.

For instance, the Rochester Youth Technology Foundation donated 300 laptops to Rochester Public Schools. WiFi have also been provided at some school parking lots as an added measure. 

It's been two months since distance learning began and some kids are shutting down. However, some parents say they understand teachers share the same struggles. 

 "I just feel like they're not doing they're best because of the difficulties we're having and I don't know what else to do. I kind of feel lost," Davis said.

But despite the hurdles, Davis considers herself luckier than some.

"I'm sure some other parents are worse off and struggling worse than we are," Davis said.

"The kids are struggling a lot. It's really hard for them. This doesn't feel like school," Fay said. 

Parents hanging on by a thread, hoping classes can safely resume in-person by fall.

Some teachers say while the world won't be the same, students may still benefit from distance learning. They may learn to be more tech-savvy and educators can make use of digital tools better. 

You will find deeper coverage of this story at www.postbulletin.com and in Tuesday's print edition of the Post Bulletin. 

Tune in all week for our "School At Home" series on distance learning in partnership with the Post Bulletin.


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