Now that Florida Governor DeSantis has cancelled public school for the remainder of the year, a decision that was supported by Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna, Leon County Schools (LCS) need to address distance learning concerns.
The cancellation of school now means that students, parents, and teachers will rely on Leon County’s version of distance learning for five more weeks.
However, recent feedback about the distance learning experience raises questions that need to be addressed by LCS moving forward.
This is what we know.
First, it appears that few LCS teachers regularly schedule online interaction with students even though video platforms are available.
Our research indicates that some private schools in Leon County are using video platforms to implement school schedules that are similar to their regular schedules. This approach requires students to login at specific times on a daily basis to receive live instruction.
This is not the case with LCS.
An informal poll by TR of approximately 20 students across six different middle and high schools in Leon County found no consistent delivery of instruction via a video platform. Each of these 20 students are enrolled in six classes.
TR found that eleven students have had no regularly scheduled video interaction with teachers since distance learning began.
Another six students indicated that scheduled live video instruction takes place in one or two classes about once or twice a week.
And three students – all enrolled in the same middle school – reported the use of live video instruction in four classes. However, the instruction took place only once a week.
Consider this math.
If each LCS teacher was required to teach one full class period a week via a live video platform, this would result in 80% percent less interaction than during normal school operations.
However, it appears LCS students are not even getting this minimal level of live instruction from teachers.
Based on these findings, in addition to talks with school officials, it appears there is no LCS district-wide requirement for teachers to engage in a minimum level of live instruction via video platforms.
Second, there appears to be no standard distance learning school platform across Leon County schools. In fact, there appears to be so many platforms that it is making it difficult for students to focus on assignments and effectively communicate with teachers.
Ishrit Gupta, a student at Rickards High School, penned his thoughts on this issue in an article published by the Tallahassee Democrat.
Gupta stated, “We’re tired of having to look through seven or eight platforms every hour. We’re tired of clicking redirect links to search for our assignments. This is my plea to Leon County Schools: Condense our platforms and make it easier on us all.”
TR has submitted two questions to LCS officials.
First, are teachers required to provide a minimum level of live instruction via a video platform? If not, why?
And second, is there a plan to address the confusion around the different platforms used by teachers in the current distance learning program?