Volusia parents adjust to virtual learning at home

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

At-home and online learning officially kicked off in Volusia County on Monday. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in Volusia County Schools following state-mandated guidelines to keep public schools closed.

Schools were originally set to be closed until April 15 with at-home learning lasting up until then. However, on Monday both the closure and at-home learning were extended to May 1. Students are now at home doing schoolwork by paper packets or online through the school districts website at www.vcsedu.org.

Adjusting to it

The schoolwork can be done on iPads, cell phones, computers, laptops, Xboxes and PlayStations.

Students can do their work online anytime throughout the day. They can work at their own pace but there are daily assignments. Teachers are available for assistance. They have designated office hours that they have communicated to the students and parents.

Right now, students, teachers, administrators are all still adjusting. Reactions from parents have been mixed.

Tracey Pitts’ son, Ty’Shawn, is in the eighth grade at Campbell Middle school.

“It’s aggravating with them being home,” Mrs. Pitts told the Daytona Times. “Things are actually moving quite slowly. Some kids actually learn better in a school setting when they have the hands-on professional setting. It’s going to take some adjusting.”

Parents are aware that at-home learning is about not only keeping the school system employees safe but also the kids.

Quentin Emmons has seven kids in the school system ranging from elementary to high school.

“It really does have its ups and downs. On one hand, the kids are at home and safe during this pandemic,” Emmons said.

“On the flip side, they are home and still have to get their education. Parents are still dealing with life pressures and now this coronavirus situation is going on.”

Emmons also pondered how this will impact the youngsters long-term.

“How is this going to affect the kids remain to be seen. Is this going to push them forward? Will it push them back? We don’t know,” she mused.

Feedback and glitches

There have been reports of glitches with the school district’s online system when things began on Monday. Volusia County School Director of Community Information Services Kelly Schulz responded via email on Wednesday.

“The system didn’t crash’ it was just slow due to the nationwide usage on Monday. Tuesday, it was much better,” said Schulz. “Parents have concerns but we have also some good feedback and a lot of thank yous.”

Anyone having problems with the system can contact the school district. Schulz added, “We have teams available answering technical questions by phone.”

Devices available

The school district is also providing a limited amount of iPads and laptops to those who don’t have technology at home. Spectrum has been providing free service for residents who do not have internet at home.

“The older kids haven’t even gotten laptops and iPad yet. They don’t get them until next week,” said Pitts. “So, they are actually waiting or doing paper this week. My son is doing paperwork this week.”

Elementary kids received their iPad and laptops last week while middle and high school kids will receive theirs between April 6 and April 8 at their respective schools. Distribution times are from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“IPads were just for elementary school students because of the programs they use. Those were already handed out,” Schultz explained. “Laptops aren’t going out to middle and high school students because it took some time to collect the laptops from schools. Many of the laptops were being used at schools for testing and add the necessary programs for secondary students to do their online work.”

Remaining optimistic

Other parents aren’t feeling the pressure as much as others.

“My daughter isn’t a problem with me. However, there are some parents having a difficult time adjusting. They are used to their kids being in school,” said Tamika Guyton.

“They are used to working. There are parents that just need more assistance with this endeavor.”

Guyton’s daughter, Perryonna Sylvester, is a senior at Spruce Creek High in Port Orange.

No word on graduations

It remains to be seen if, schools will re-open at all this year. The Volusia County School District was to end classes on May 29. It also remains to be seen what will happen with graduation as well. Graduations are scheduled to run from May 27 to May 31.

It’s still up in the air if the students will be able to return to their classrooms this year.

It also remains to be seen what will happen with graduation as well. Graduations are scheduled to run from May 27 to May 31. The Volusia school district was to end classes on May 29. Graduations were scheduled from May 27 to May 31.

“We are waiting on recommendations from the Florida Department of Education,” said Schulz.

For updates and more information, parents can contact Volusia County School’s hotline at VCS Virtual Online Instructional Support Hotline at 386-626-0070.

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