Administration expresses leniency during quarter one due to distance learning

“There is a lot that happens with facial expressions,” said Assistant Principal Katie Post. “Reading the room becomes a whole lot harder when you can’t see people, because faces say so much.” The administration at County has been continuously working this past quarter in hopes of bringing LCHS students a school year that isn’t too altered because of the global pandemic; however, several issues involving the process, like tardies, connectivity, and assignment errors have been brought into question.

The most commonly occurring problem facing distance learners and educators is wavering connectivity. Connection errors are an inevitable part of any virtual platform, but administrators are working with the school board and are gradually figuring out ways to have Phoenix and Schoology working more efficiently for the school users all across the county.

Assistant principal Mark Patterson acknowledged that programs will inevitably have issues, so there is some leniency compared to issues such as tardies during a normal school year. “I’ve had several issues logging into Schoology, sometimes I am late because the platform crashes, but the staff is most accommodating and very understanding of technology errors,” said junior Nina Segura.

Administration officials are encouraging the staff and students to balance some of the confusion. Difficulties, especially relating to attendance, has become a more serious concern because it is state mandated. School administration has slightly eased back on tardy regulations and are addressing them with respect to distance learning disturbances, and accepting student emails explaining the lateness.

“Students may not always make it to class on time, and if it happens we are going to treat it lightly,” said Patterson. “We must hear from a parent sometime that day to confirm the absence, but we’re not trying to come after you.”

Another concern that has been increasingly mentioned with students during the past few months is the rising confusion of where assignments are placed on virtual platforms, like Schoology. Many students are unaware of where tasks are placed in the online classroom because they don’t know all the features of the website, leading to missed assignments and forgotten due dates. High school students are expected to adapt to the new learning environment, and understand exactly how a program works, but school officials aren’t providing students with that specific information.

Schoology error message
The image shows the infamous error message on distance learning platform, Schoology, which has been a primary issue for LCPS. Many students and teachers log on to DL at the same times; therefore, it isn’t uncommon for technology to crash or be unable to load.

“Although every teacher and student is learning as we go through, several tutorials and connectED links were released through email to County families prior to the beginning of the school year,” said Principal Michelle Luttrell. “But, a training session will most likely not cover everything you’re going to need to know about an online learning website.”

LCHS administration emphasizes the importance of patience and limiting frustration because of the online inconveniences, but many students like sophomore Sofie Steel started off the year already distraught. “My parents forwarded me a training clip sent by the admin and I thought it would take the first day jitters off my plate, but the video just left me with more anxiety and more questions about Schoology,” said Steel. “Honestly, it wasn’t the most beneficial tool.”

A final complication students have expressed throughout the time of this experience involves use of cameras. Whether it’s teachers politely asking students to participate for regular classroom function, or in order to ensure integrity on exams, cameras can be beneficial, yet the public schools administration has no final authorization on this requirement; furthermore, teachers feel like the camera option is leading to reduced schoolroom engagement because of minimal participation, and silence during lessons.

“Even though teachers feel like they’re speaking to icons, rather than people, it’s still a division level issue due to the vision council, not our school admin,” Luttrell said on October 2. “Cameras have been a persistent topic of discussion recently, but our school has no permission to enforce that kids put on their cameras because there are many good reasons why someone doesn’t have it on.”

Additionally, the school administration wants to express that the learning setting is certainly altered, “There is not a way to perfect the virtual environment, so we have to learn to adjust,” said Luttrell. Teachers are stepping up to create lessons and study tools in ways they’ve never completed before, making it a different place for everyone together.

“Teachers, administrators, and students are all in a weird situation,” said Post. “Comprehending and learning is just slower when it involves a screen, and that is the barrier we’re facing. It’s difficult, but we’re all showing up everyday to support you.”

Despite the connectivity errors that occur, LCHS administrators have been quickly addressing the disruptions and the majority of the complications that have taken place throughout the span of the first quarter. Although some tools which produce an ideal form of learning are missing, the school community as a whole is positively contributing to the overall outcome and greater good of the 20-21 school year.

“It’s hard being in school alone, it’s hard not seeing your faces, we miss your faces, and we miss you,” Luttrell said. “It is easy to feel self-defeated, but we’re all in this together, giving each other grace, and we are all making the best of it.”