FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – COVID-19 took a toll on our school system, forcing teachers, students, and parents to navigate virtual learning for the first time.
I’m feeling all the feels.MICHELLE WOLCHOK, TEACHER, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
KNWA/FOX 24 shows us the ups and downs faced by all those involved.
It’s been one year…
It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster. I’m not going to lie.ANNA BEAULIEU, TEACHER, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Since schools had to make a change they’ve never had to make before – virtual learning.
It’s been really challenging.BONNIE KING, PARENT, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
For parents, such as Bonnie King, whose three kids do in-person learning at Fayetteville Public Schools, it’s brought about its obstacles.
“The learning curve with technology and knowing how to get my kids in the right ZOOMs at the right times as well as my husband and I both working at home and you go online, it was all really kind of stressful and challenging,” she said.
Inside the classroom, learning is equally as tough.
The kids are sitting 6-ft apart, they’re masked, it’s very hard to hear one another, so there’s a lot less interaction which is where a lot of learning happens.ANNA BEAULIEU, TEACHER, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
For Anna Beaulieu, who is a French teacher at Fayetteville, the hardest part has been having to change her teaching style.
“We couldn’t do any of the food projects that we normally do, we couldn’t do the craft projects or traditional dance,” she said. “None of that because of the restrictions that we faced.”
These limitations weren’t all that bad though.
In fact, for Michelle Wolchok, who teaches only virtually at Fayetteville Public Schools, it’s been rewarding to see her shy students come out of their shells when learning comfortably in their homes.
“I’ve been seeing a lot blossom in ways that surprised me I guess,” she said. “A happy surprise.”
Smitha Kartik, whose kids are learning virtually through Fayetteville Public Schools, agrees.
“They’ve picked up a lot of life skills which is amazing,” she said.
This school year has also opened up more time for families to spend together, and be even more involved in their child’s school life.
“Having them home has been a sweet time of being able to connect over meals more often than we would have during the traditional type of learning,” King said.
Fayetteville Schools Teaching and Learning Associate Superintendent Dr. Steven Weber said this year, they’ve had the highest parent-teacher conference rate they’ve ever seen.
“They don’t have to get childcare they don’t have to leave their office or the work early to make it to a parent teacher conference at 5:30 in the evening,” he said.
COVID-19 definitely brought about its challenges.
It has made everyone’s job 10 times harder.ANNA BEAULIEU, TEACHER, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
But in the end, parents, teachers, and the schools – all came together and made it through.
“Just know that we are fighting as hard for the education of your students as you are,” Wolchok said. “We love being on the same team as you to get through this year and we appreciate all the support.”
According to Dr. Weber, Fayetteville Schools expects to see a more blended learning model used in the future.
“We could blend both together and have some virtual options in the regular classroom and have some traditional options at the Fayetteville Virtual Academy,” he said. “I think this is really taught us a lot about teaching and learning and taught us about students learning styles.”
He said he is proud of all the teachers, students, and parents coming together to navigate the unknowns and struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They really had to step it up with a lot of things.DR. STEVEN WEBER, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS