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Remote learning remains a challenge in Libby

The Western News | September 29, 2020 7:00 AM

A month after Lincoln County schools reopened for the fall semester, educators continue having trouble juggling remote learning and in-person teaching.

Teachers at the Libby Middle High School are being stretched thin by the dual system, Principal Ruth Vanworth-Rogers said on Sept. 23. While a few students who initially signed up for remote learning returned to the classroom, Vanworth-Rogers said nearly 40 students are still working from home.

During a Sept. 14 school board meeting, Vanworth-Rogers reported that 49 Libby Middle High School students were working virtually. Of those, only 10 were consistently making contact with their teachers and just six were passing all of their classes.

While she had seen an anecdotal improvement in remote-learning grades since the meeting, Vanworth-Rogers said last week that many of the students are still failing to complete work.

“We don’t know the reasons since they aren’t making contact,” she said.

Under the school’s remote learning policy, teachers host a Google classroom to interact with their students working from home. Though a few assignments are distributed in paper format, Vanworth-Rogers said students must have access to the virtual classroom to complete the majority of their assignments.

Chrome books are available for remote learners who don't have a home computer. If a student doesn’t have Internet access, Vanworth-Rogers said they could connect to the school’s wifi in the parking lot.

As teachers and administrators handle the demands of the new system, Vanworth-Rogers said she was asking for grace and patience from middle and high school parents.

At Troy schools, Superintendent Jake Francom said only a handful of students were signed up for remote learning. While teachers and students were working through the difficulties of the system, he said they were generally pleased with it.

Though remote students may opt for a paper version of their curriculum, Francom said the majority work virtually. For students without Internet access, Francom said the school district lends out hotspots. Hotspots only work in areas with cell service, he said.

Some Troy students who signed up for a remote schedule at the beginning of the year have asked to return to classrooms. Francom said that elementary students must wait until the end of the quarter and high school students would have to wait until the end of the trimester before changing their statuses.

Having students switch between remote and in-person learning at will would put too much stress on the school system, Francom said.

“It would be a burden on our teachers and our facilities,” he said.