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Technology Baltimore virtual classes in Covid: Educators are tracking students down to fight low attendance

14:46  21 september  2020
14:46  21 september  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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Baltimore educators are tracking down students to fight low virtual attendance . It's hard to know if that number is accurate because the 79,187 students enrolled in Baltimore City Public Schools were able to virtually attend class without logging on, district spokesperson Andre Riley told CNN.

With millions of students starting the year online and attendance proving to be a challenge, schools are getting creative in making sure children get to class . CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro reports.

Every week, community school site specialist Evan Murray calls Baltimore students at his school who are not logging on for classes.

a woman sitting at a desk in front of a laptop computer: A Baltimore teacher holds class online in an empty classroom. The district is calling students who aren't logging on for classes. © CNN A Baltimore teacher holds class online in an empty classroom. The district is calling students who aren't logging on for classes.

"If someone is saying, 'Hey Mr. Murray, I can't get in touch with this student,' then I'm like, 'Just give me the number and I'll call them,'" he told CNN. "And I call people all the time and parents know, you know, I'll call you at 7 in the morning. I'll call you at 9:30 at night. Yeah, I don't have a problem that."

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It has asked students residing on campus to vacate in five days and to not return until the end of the semester. The reaction to COVID -19 is same across many campuses in the U.S. and several other countries. The student can access the virtual classroom with an access code sent by the teacher.

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Attendance can be a challenge for public school as it is. And with millions of students learning online for at least part of the semester to protect against Covid-19 spread, that challenge has only grown. On the first week of school the daily average of students logging in without interruption was only 65%, said Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.

It's hard to know if that number is accurate because the 79,187 students enrolled in Baltimore City Public Schools were able to virtually attend class without logging on, district spokesperson Andre Riley told CNN. But going forward, all students will be required to log on.

Murray said he is making a practice of tracking down students to make sure they sign on and don't fall behind.

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Data on why students disappear from virtual school is hard to come by, but there are some obvious explanations. Many students lack a computer or stable internet; others have to work or care for younger children; and some families were evicted and had to move.

As COVID -19 requires more schools to transition to online learning, the students who were already the most vulnerable to falling behind will face even more The homework gap is a stark illustration of the challenges faced by low -income students and their families. As part of a recent project focused on

"We are like MacGyver. We're gonna do whatever we have to do to try to get the student in class. We want to get these kids in class," he said.

Part of the problem is that the pandemic has increased inequities among students. Some students have been exposed to the technologies that they must now rely on, while others have not, Murray said. And unexpected shipping delays on at least 10,000 devices mean that not all students have access to their classes yet, Santelises told WYPR Baltimore Public Radio.

But technology isn't the only obstacle.

School systems across the country are providing free technology and tech support teams, but students are still missing the oversight they would get when they go to a physical campus.

"The oversight that students have now really are themselves. So the students that are more successful are the students who are diligent and making sure that they are going through the steps," Murray said.

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Its roughly 1,100 students hold at least 47 different passports; more than 60 percent of students are considered low income. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced the vast majority of schools across the country to close, educators are scrambling to find ways to keep reaching students during a crisis

While Albion claimed students are being restricted to campus in order “to reduce the risk of transmission between the campus or community populations,” the school’s ‘ Covid bubble’ has one gaping flaw: faculty and administrators can come and go as they please.

The way to make remote learning successful, Murry said, is for everyone in a student's life to work together and answer the phone when he calls.

But even when students are in front of the screen, remote learning has faced other problems across the country.

The Houston Independent School District's website went down earlier this month as more than 200,000 students began virtual learning, for example. In Florida, the Miami-Dade school district was the victim of a series of cyberattacks.

Other districts had to delay the start of their year because of issues with overloaded traffic and viruses in the network.

"In this unprecedented school year, we must remain flexible and quickly adapt to changing conditions and circumstances," HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said in a statement.

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