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Remote Control: OR Teachers Comment on Schools Reopening Virtually

Students are likely to continue learning remotely through the rest of the year in Oregon. (Seventyfour/Adobe Stock)
Students are likely to continue learning remotely through the rest of the year in Oregon. (Seventyfour/Adobe Stock)
August 31, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The virtual challenges of remote learning are becoming a reality for teachers across Oregon.

Lindsay Ray, a high-school math teacher in Beaverton, said this semester will be an uphill battle, with many teachers instructing from their living rooms and never meeting their students in person.

But Ray added the spring shutdown is providing guidance for this fall.

"I think that we learned a lot of lessons in the spring when we had to pivot so quickly to distanced learning," Ray said. "And we've had a little bit more time to think about this, to plan this."

Ray said students face many challenges to their education this fall, from lack of access to the internet to parents who are unemployed, and it's important for teachers and schools to acknowledge that.

Joanne Shepard, a first-grade teacher in Portland, said students will be able to access school material any time of day so that kids with working parents can wait until they're home.

But she worries about homeless families and how they will access learning. And learning online presents an added challenge for young children.

"First graders are still learning to read, right?" Shepard said. "So it's very hard to type on a computer when you don't yet know how to read and write. So there are these, sort of logistical and cognitive challenges, for young students."

Shepard said the platform Seesaw will be integral for being able to engage young students.

She said all hope is not lost for the school year. Shepard's still going to have high expectations for her students.

"I believe in the capacity of children and my work thus far has shown me that there's not a lot that they can't do with the right guidance and the right instruction," Shepard said.

Ray said nourishing social-emotional growth could be just as important as the academic lessons.

"We just need to make sure that we're all lifting each other up and that we're all helping each other out and know that, fingers crossed, there's an end in sight before too long," Ray said. "And we just need to make the most of this time and make sure that our kids are taken care of."

Disclosure: The Oregon Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Education, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR