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Parents get to choose if kids will return to school, but teachers can also request to teach online

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Just like how parents get to request their kids go fully virtual, teachers in Columbia County get a say in what they do, too. Principals are taking into account the concerns teachers have about going back to school.

“Teachers are adults, and they’re professionals and they know how they can best do their jobs,” said Kim Barker, an education professor at Augusta University.

Barker says taking input from teachers is crucial for back to school plans. She’s a professor at the AU College of Education but used to teach elementary school herself.

“Teachers are very concerned about their students’ safety. I mean, that’s just part of the job, right? But as teachers were really concerned about our students learning,” Barker said.

Columbia County officials say they’re on the same page. They are trying to balance teacher preferences with how equipped they are for online learning.

“We want people who are good with digital learning, that want to do it, that have the right attitude for it,” Barker said.

Across the river, Aiken County officials said in their meeting Tuesday night that they actually need more teachers to volunteer to teach online. We asked Barker why teachers there might prefer face-to-face.

“Teachers prefer having those rich, exploratory, and online experiences and also collaborative work with their children,” she said.

But Columbia County education leaders say they feel confident in their teachers’ abilities. Some of the staff members have undergone extensive training on their digital learning platform.

“We have over 400 Google certified teachers. That helps get us started. This summer we had over 120 more teachers get Google certified,” said Jeff Carney, associate superintendent of Columbia County schools.

The district says it’s crunch time for making schedules now but say principals have been in constant contact with their teachers about if they need to teach from home.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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