As students prepare to head back to school, some families are concerned they will not have the technology needed to help their children succeed in virtual or distance learning. Specifically, in the African-American community, many students have not engaged as much in the virtual learning landscape, as we have relied on brick-and-mortar institutions.
A sweep of all the local school districts’ websites shows most have already started distributing equipment to students, with others announcing plans are underway.
Check the website for the Philadelphia School District if you have equipment concerns.
The School District of Philadelphia will loan a Chromebook to every District K-12 student who needs one, to ensure all students have access to digital learning opportunities while schools remain closed long-term due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) response efforts. It will also make digital content available to help students retain, learn and apply skills and strategies with the support of a teacher. The loaner program is free, however all devices must be returned once schools reopen.
Three Technology Support Centers are open five days a week, Monday–Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for families to obtain new Chromebooks, or get help with theirs.
It is understood that not all students have access to Wi-Fi/ internet at home, so some districts are also providing hot spots.
For those who may be able to afford discounted service, internet providers such as AT&T and Comcast have designed programs offering internet plans for as low as $10 a month to help families.
Check with your local cable and/or internet providers for deals.
So, once you have the devices, how do you get moving in the right direction?
Do you know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous virtual learning?
Virtual synchronous instruction requires students and teachers to interact in real-time through a computer or electronic device.
In virtual asynchronous instruction, students work independently, and teachers provide daily feedback.
Familiarize yourself with these two formats in order to best assist your child.
Also, make sure your child adopts a normal routine for learning at home, similar to what they practice at school. Wake up on time, brush your teeth and wash your face, comb your hair, eat a well-balanced breakfast and lunch, take a moment to stretch and wiggle for recess and — by all means — dress appropriately. No pajamas while logging on.
Overall, parents and caregivers just need to be ready, this could last a while. School districts around the world are reporting virtual learning could range from three to six weeks, with some schools delaying the start of in-person learning until the holidays, but the COVID-19 crisis has plans changing quickly — and often. Our advice? Be ready for the long haul. Be ready for anything.
—African-American News & Issues