Schools increasingly go online during disasters
More school systems across the country are using online courses when communities face disasters such as wildfires, storms or water shortages.
In Jackson, Mississippi, a problem with the public water supply system left the town without drinking water for several days. As a result, schools went online for a week.
The time spent in remote learning didn’t last long for Jackson’s school system of 20,000 students. Sufficient water pressure was returned earlier this month for children to resume in-person learning. And last week the city declared the water safe for normal use.
However, e-learning has increased the disturbance for children and teachers. At home, children taking online classes often had their entire family at home.
At the start of 2020, school officials had high hopes for remote learning. Since then, the issues with her have become clearer. The shift to online learning has caused many students to fall behind where they should be in their studies. And it added to new concerns about the mental health of students.
At the same time, the push towards online learning has led to increased use of technology, which has made remote learning possible on a large scale. ladder.
In 2018, two powerful storms hit the same areas in North Carolina, causing schools to close in some places. Some students have been absent from school for weeks. There have been attempts at distance learning, but many children did not have laptops or other technology.
As a result, most schools have attempted to move students to other buildings in person, Gary Henry said. He is director of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware and was part of a research team studying the effects of distance learning.
Henry said school systems will now turn to online learning first. For a few weeks he said it could be a way to keep students on the right track. But the pandemic has shown that it is not effective over a long period.
Schools in Mora, New Mexico, for example, switched to remote learning last April when the city was evacuated because of a forest fire.
It was a rough start, Superintendent Marvin MacAuley said. Some of the displaced students and teachers were in evacuation centers and had no computer technology. Over time, people were able to get computers or access the Internet.
In mid-August, students returned to school, in person, for the first time since the fire.
“When a lot has happened, it’s best to have the kids in person so you can see how they’re doing, take note of their behaviors and provide support,” MacAuley said.
In Cresskill, New Jersey, after a strong ocean storm in 2021, the building containing the high school and middle school was flooded. The school system had no choice but to start the school year online.
School superintendent Michael Burke said online learning is difficult for children with mental health issues. “It’s hard for kids to socialize. And it’s hard for parents who have to arrange for someone to be home.”
After a while, Cresskill offered both online and in-person instruction. The school system worked with a local church group to use its 14 classrooms. Later, in February, the school moved to the church in a nearby town so that students could go to class every day.
Sarah Barrs has a daughter who goes to school in Cresskill. “It’s not school,” she said of remote learning. “It’s a last resort and it shouldn’t be a crutch that we rely on for school.
In Jackson, Mississippi, fifth-grade teacher Ryan Johnson has used his experience of the pandemic to help new teachers at his school. They faced the same issues when the school system went online during the city’s water crisis.
Teachers worked hard last year to help students improve, he said. But he said he was worried about the possible effects of another lengthy school closure.
I am Dan Novak.
Brooke Schultz reported this story for The Associated Press. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
disturbance -not. something that makes it impossible to continue in a normal way
remote — adj. far; far
ladder -not. the size or level of something
on the right track -phrasing is happening as it should or is planned
clear out -v. to leave or be taken out of a place because of danger
last resort — nm the last choice or possibility remaining
crutch — nm something that is too used to getting help or support