Highline College

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Covid-19 pushes Highline schools online

Ashlee StacyStaff Reporter April 23

The outbreak of COVID-19 is sending schools into remote schooling, using technology to allow schools to stay connected with their students.

Schools have distributed Chromebooks to students who do not have access to laptops or computers, including New Start High School, Highline High School, and Seahurst Elementary.

Along with not having access to computers, “students may not have access to wi-fi” said Highline High School Vice Principle Dr. Maries Huening, a problem they are trying to address.

Parents and guardians also need to be updated with what is happening for their children. It is important to inform parents and guardians about announcements for their student, school officials said.

Highline High School’s administration is sending out many “messages in multiple languages” via email to ensure basic needs are met and to see if students do not have devices, Dr. Huening said.

Dr. Huening said doing online schooling can create more flexibility for some students, especially those who help take care of siblings or are “holding a job to help with family income.”

Many teachers are using computer software such as Google classroom and Zoom to stay connected to as many students as possible.

“Each department will hold virtual office hours once a week for students to receive support,” Dr. Huening said.

A teacher at New Start High School, Katy Stone, works in the Learning Center re-engagement program, which is based online. “Our students are used to working online,” she said, making this transition a little easier.

“Being confined to our homes and likely getting bored, many students are doing their online work,” Stone said. “Some of my colleagues are having mixed results.”

Communication seems to be the key component in making online schooling successful, teachers say.

Getting information out to students and letting them know teachers are supporting them can be encouraging for most students, Stone said.

Teachers have been trying to stay connected with their students as much as possible, they say.

The staff at Seahurst are trying to support families’ basic needs before proceeding to the learning aspect for the students. Wendy Colmus, the instructional coach and early learning coordinator at Seahurst said “Each teacher reached out to every single family” to make sure their basic needs are being met.

The teachers at Seahurst have been trying to figure out lesson plans that will “best meet the needs of our students,” Colmus said, and trying “not to overwhelm our families.”

Students that have voiced concerns about online school, with the common fear of not being prepared enough for the next school year.

Alana Gaalema, a junior at Highline High School, said she is concerned about taking AP exams and how students “can just cheat and get away with it” since there isn’t an adviser to catch them.

“It’s difficult to converse with your teachers and get help on things online,” she said. Gaalema said she prefers to speak to her teachers face to face.

“As a low-income student of color, I am already faced at a disadvantage,” said another Highline students, a senior. She is going to be attending college next year and lacks confidence going into the next part of her life.

She explained how her “Spanish will not be as fluent” because she isn’t Hispanic or “immersed in a Spanish speaking environment.”

On the other hand, Tory Esperanza, a junior at Kentridge High School, said, “Online schooling will prepare me well for next year.”

Esperanza said online schooling “requires a lot more self-control…which is a skill I will gladly take with me into next year.”

As schools are jumping into a new adventure of remote schooling, many schools will have to rethink how schools are operated.

“We can’t as a school system only plan for the remainder of this year, but how this change in schooling will affect future years,” Wendy Colmus of Seahurst said.

The fear of stunting educational growth can be a concern for most people. “It could take several years for our students to catch back up to be where they are supposed to be,” Colmus said.

“Remote school is going to profoundly affect students’ learning and growth,” Dr. Huening said. “We just don’t know yet in which direction.”