DENVER (KDVR) — School districts across Colorado are scrambling to start online learning. Gov. Jared Polis suspended in-person learning across Colorado until April 17.
On Thursday, the FOX31 Problem Solvers reached out to eight of the Denver area’s largest school districts. The districts were asked when online learning will start, how will it work, if there will be time for teachers to be trained and if students will still be graded during the disruption.
Most district officials could not answer the questions — telling FOX31 they’re still working on plans. The uncertainty has parents and educators concerned.
“There’s a lot of anxiety,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of Colorado Education Association. “There’s a lot of sadness that educators are experiencing from being away from their students.”
Baca-Oehlert leads the teachers union that represents 39,000 educators. She says many of her teachers are waiting to be taught themselves on how to establish virtual classrooms.
“Some districts are going to be providing virtual training to their educators so that they can prepare for that,” she said. “But time is needed in order for educators and districts to ramp up and to be prepared.”
Some teaching will be done through virtual interaction while other methods could use emailed links and attachments with detailed lesson instructions.
“It’s going to be a mix of trying to interact with your students face-to-face in a virtual format as well as just sending them online tools, links and resources to utilize at home,” Baca-Oehlert said.
But what about families that don’t have home computers or adequate internet access? Many districts weren’t able to provide solid solutions to those issues.
At the end of the day, teachers by and large say their top priority is ensuring the wellbeing of children and putting mental and emotional health above grades and exams.
The teachers union is calling on districts to allow for teacher flexibility when it comes to grading during his disruptive time. They recognize that not all children succeed as easily with online learning.
The school districts of Denver, Cherry Creek and Aurora do not have online education plans ready to share to the public.
The Douglas County School District (DCSD) says it will start virtual teaching on Tuesday, March 24. Teachers will be trained on March 23.
DCSD is determining if students will be graded during this disruptive time. It says it is in contact with the Colorado Department of Education and principals are meeting to discuss that concern.
Mapleton Public Schools will start virtual teaching on April 2. Teachers will be able to review and train with online learning tools from March 23 – April 1, according to the district.
When asked if students will be graded during this time, the district said:
“These are currently unprecedented times we are going to focus our energies on assuring that students learn the essential standards. Grades and credits will be earned based on a student’s demonstration of learning. Students will know ahead of time what content will be graded and how it will be graded. Students will be given multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they know. While we will not abandon our commitment to rigor, Mapleton will lead with grace and understanding for assignment completion.”