Distance learning still up in the air leaving public school teachers worried about additional challenges this school year

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Distance learning models are up in the air for this coming school year. It’s leaving some teachers concerned as they prepare for a full school reopening in just a few weeks.

On Thursday, the Hawaii Board of Education will vote on whether or not distance learning will be offered this school year. Last year, many teachers found themselves having to juggle both teaching students in-class as well as those who opted to learn from home. For middle school teacher, Sarah Milianta, it was difficult to balance.

“Let’s say a student in person asked me a question, so I’m going to step away from the computer,” said Sarah Milianta, a teacher at Ilima Intermediate School. “Well, then the kids online are in the chat box, like where did the teacher go? What happened? I didn’t feel like I could service both groups of students to what they need at the same time.”

In its June meeting, the BOE mentioned that its open to distance learning options. So is the teacher’s union, but it wants to make sure educators aren’t being pulled in different directions.

“If we had a complex level or state level operation, that would have been great,” said Osa Tui, presidents of the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association. “If we had just a couple of kids from each school, we could gather up enough kids and have true distance learning with a qualified teacher on the other side and not just put them on some type of program.”

With concerns about new COVID-19 variants and many children still unvaccinated, Tui believes some parents may look for other education options if a form of distance learning isn’t offered.

“What we’re really concerned with is that parents are going to say, ‘I’m going to pull my student, my child out of the public education system’ and that’s really going to do a disservice to the child,” Tui said. “It’s actually going to reduce funding for the school and so making sure that we have an option for the students is vitally important.”

Tui is hoping that the BOE and DOE can find a middle ground and for teachers like Milianta, hopefully that’s all ironed out soon.

“Just so we can get an idea what we’re getting ready for,” Milianta said. “Teachers like me. I’m already looking at my lesson plans. I’m already looking at my Google classroom for what I’m building for the school year. So we just need to know that direction.”

The BOE’s meeting is on Thursday. There’s still time to weigh in on the distance learning option, for more information click here.

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