First day of live, virtual learning for Goshen schools

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 6:19 PM EDT
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Goshen Community Schools started the 2020-2021 school year completely virtual. On Tuesday, teachers at the middle school could be seen conversing through a camera to their students who were tuning in live from their homes.

“We’ve had some bumps and bruises along today, but now that we’re into the afternoon, it’s going pretty smoothly,” commented Brandi Sapp, the master teacher at Goshen Middle School.

Students report to virtual class on a similar schedule as they would in-person, with some exceptions, here or there. Breaks are allowed before and after classes - and sometimes during class.

“Virtual learning is a real possibility,” Sapp said. “It’s not a second-best to in-person learning, so if you feel medically you need to do online learning or it’s just a better choice for your student, give it a try.”

Sapp said they have found students to be more comfortable sharing information about themselves virtually, possibly due to being in their home environment and having fewer distractions compared to the brick-and-mortar classroom. But teachers are still working out the kinks.

“[Virtual learning] is not going to be perfect. As we get into it, we’re learning a lot - but that’s happening across the nation. There’s nobody that does this well yet,” she said.

The district is preparing for Monday, August 17th, when students will trickle into school buildings again. Grades K-5 will have shortened days and have eLearning for specials; half of students in grades 6-12 will attend school on certain days of the week while the other half will go to class on opposite days. They will learn virtually the days they are not in school buildings.

“Every detail has been thought of, planned for,” said Lori Shreiner, one of the middle school principals. “It’s just the diligence of the staff members to make sure that those protocols are followed.”

Everyone in Goshen buildings will wear a face mask all the time. Frequent hand-washing and social distancing of at least six feet will be required, too.

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