CMSD works to continue distance learning despite obstacles

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW)– The coronavirus pandemic has forced Ohio students to learn from home for the foreseeable future. How well they do can depend on their access to a computer or highspeed internet.

Thousands of students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District do not have internet access, and school administrators said they are doing what they can to change that.

“It’s actually running smoother than I anticipated,” said parent Isabel Montoya.

Montoya is the mother of a fourth-grade girl at William Harper Elementary and a ninth-grade boy with special needs at Max Hayes High School. They are forced to learn from home after Gov. Mike DeWine shut down all Ohio schools last month.

“He has his own curriculum, but they have also been very, very helpful in providing me with a lot of tools, a lot of sites that he can go on and he’s enjoying it,” she explained.

Montoya said much of her children’s work has been online. Her daughter often shares assignments with her teachers and classmates on the computer.

“They were live on Instagram. They were able to do math and they were able to do reading and they were able to do art and music and gym. So it was very similar to what they would normally do throughout the week,” Montoya said.

“About a third of our families do not have high-speed reliable internet and that almost two thirds of our families don’t have a device, a computer or a laptop,” said Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

Gordon said distance learning is a big challenge for thousands of families. He said administrators are rounding up electronics that the district already owns and purchasing new ones to give to students who need them by the end of the month.

“There’s a shortage, particularly on hotspots, but also Chromebooks and other tablets… We have 12,000 devices that our tech team have been re-configuring and setting up for home delivery… We’re going to start by focusing on seniors and juniors,” he said.

Gordon said next week, written assignments will be mailed out to families without internet access.  He said students and parents can also reach a teacher by phone or video chat.

The CEO said final grading will rely heavily on the three quarters of the school year already completed, along with the work they do from now on.

“We’ve advised our teachers not to think of this as formal grading in the same way as if students were in school because different students have different levels of ability to participate,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the most frequent question he receives from students concern prom and graduation.  He says he is still trying to figure out ways of making both events happen. He said although many people have suggested having a virtual graduation ceremony online, he has not heard of one graduating senior who approves of that alternative.

Gordon said anyone with questions or concerns can find more information on the school district’s website at clevelandmetroschools.org.

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