Virtual learning can be a struggle for parents, students and teachers

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 11:29 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The virus isn’t the only challenge for schools, technology has been a problem, too.

Nearly 7,000 students choose to enroll in AIKEN iNNOVATE, an online virtual school, and parents are having all kinds of problems connecting.

It’s a necessary option, but virtual learning has come with its share of difficulties. Teachers and parents alike are experiencing it first-hand.

“I just don’t want my kids to fall behind,” said Felicia Wright, parent of three Aiken County students.

“The beginning was a little chaotic for everyone. As a teacher we had a lot of support, we just needed a little bit more guidance in the beginning,” said Bethany Ross, a second-grade Aiken County teacher.

From connectivity issues, log-in issues, and overall confusion, the Aiken County School District is trying to address the concerns of AIKEN iNNOVATE parents.

“And we’re so large, that’s kind of was a little bit unexpected, that we had so many accounting issues to start with...And then also we’re dealing with, you know, some parents that may not have the technical skills to help their students at home,” said Don Pencille, the district’s director of technology.

The district launched a hotline to assist with any technical difficulties. So far, the hotline has been active for eight days and the staff has seen more than 300 calls -- averaging about 75 per day.

“It’s a whole new form of support for us. You know, we’re not used to support on a virtual level. We’re used to support face to face,” Pencille said.

But parents say some of their concerns can’t be resolved in a phone call.

“My son is special needs-he’s autistic. So, I had no choice but to pull him,” parent Jennifer Hernandez-Martinez said.

This mom pulled her son from AIKEN iNNOVATE because of connectivity issues. Other moms like Wright considered the same, but because operating AIKEN iNNOVATE was too confusing.

“It is very frustrating and they’re falling behind and all I can hope is that you know, maybe in the next couple of weeks we get better resources to get them all caught back up,” Wright said.

“We know it’s, it’s difficult for the parents difficult for the students as well as the teacher, so we’re doing whatever we can to help them out.”

According to the district website, the assistance provided by the new support line includes device hardware issues, email and password issues, and problems with internet access.

District staff will be available by phone to assist parents, guardians, and students during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with the exception of holidays. The phone number is 803-641-2642.

Other issues specifically related to district devices distributed to families should be directed to the student’s home school.

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