SAN ANTONIO – During the COVID-19 pandemic, students and families have had to adapt to remote learning as opposed to in-person instruction. Officials at North Side Independent School district say they are now seeing more students failing due to the method of instruction.
Sherry Mireles, the principal at Rawlinson Middle School, says educators are scrambling to identify which learning methods work best for students in order to connect to key concepts.
“Students are struggling to connect to school for whatever reason," Mireles said. “So I think it’s our job, it’s our job as educators, to recognize what those things are and to do things to help students be successful.”
Mireles said her staff is ramping up communication specifically for students who are learning virtually.
Additionally, Mireles said they are keeping track of students who are falling behind and they are making recommendations to parents. The school also conducts home visits when deemed necessary.
“We had students that weren’t connecting and that were having a real hard time, and so we reached out to those families and we asked them to reconsider," Mireles said. “Their first thought was to do virtual learning. We said, ‘Listen, these are all of the things that we have in place. Here’s all the safety precautions and procedures that at any time you can always change your mind and go back to virtual learning. But we highly recommend that they come back in person.’”
Janis Jordan, deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Northside ISD, said the overall failure rate is close to double what it was this time last year for the first grading period.
“Moving to 100% virtual, which all districts, all districts in Texas, started off at 100% virtual learning -- there were some challenges with students perhaps who didn’t have a device or those who are struggling (to implement) a new learning management system,” Jordan said.
The Texas Education Agency allows a school district to remove a student from remote learning if they have a class average of 70 or below or if they have three or more unexcused absences in a grading period. Parents can appeal the change.
Jordan said they understand safety is on the top of mind for many families, but ultimately, they want the student to succeed.
“Campuses know where each of their students are, and they’re deploying a whole variety of strategies to help students be most successful. And one of them is if the student is not doing well in the virtual environment, (we’re) doing everything we can to get the student back in school physically in a safe way so that the student can receive some extra attention to hopefully turn that around,” Jordan said.
The district is offering online homework support free of charge to all NISD students after hours and on weekends.
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