Living Safer: E-learning in Alabama
Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 at 8:00 am
Written by: Ken Riley, Law Partner at Farris, Riley & Pitt, LLP
This issue of Living Safer is focused on understanding how E-learning is going to affect our children both in the short and long-term. As a parent, the safety of my children is my main priority, so I appreciate the rules in place to provide a safe learning environment. However, developmental delays and lack of social interaction are just a few of the concerns that I have for my children during this pandemic. E-learning for Alabama school districts is not a new concept. In 2015, the trend took momentum, as students were introduced to E-days on inclement weather days and teacher workdays as opposed to having the day off. While building E-days into a school’s calendar is not a new concept, COVID-19 will likely escalate the amount of time students spend learning outside of the traditional classroom. We must also remember that while many school administrators, superintendents, boards and others have been under scrutiny, they have had to completely overhaul the traditional learning institution to conform to the rigors of a pandemic in the span of three to four months – a near impossible task, in my opinion. As a son of a retired teacher and the brother of a teacher currently adjusting to the new normal, I applaud everyone for the job that they have done to turn a bad situation into a positive experience for children and parents. Teachers are heroes, and we are all getting a taste of how we as a society have taken our teachers for granted in some respects.
I have two boys attending Vestavia Hills City Schools, and we have been given the option between a traditional, on-campus learning model and a remote learning model. When contemplating this decision, I ask the questions that many parents are asking: Will E-learning be a detriment to my child’s future or an effective strategy for adapting to change long-term? If we choose the traditional setting, what happens if the school is forced to suspend or cancel on-campus activities? How will we adjust to ensure that the children will be able to safely interact with other children? As a working parent, how does a family manage the work from home/teach from home concept? Our goal for this Living Safer issue is to provide resources on the positives and negatives of E-learning, so that you and your loved ones can make decisions that are best for your family.
Not all families will have a choice in whether their children learn virtually or traditionally. Some districts in Alabama, such as Chelsea City Schools and Hoover City Schools, are executing a hybrid approach by alternating days in which students are on campus. Others only offer this concept to middle and high schoolers. This issue of Living Safer will provide tools to help your family adapt to these new obstacles and – let’s try to be positive and say – opportunities.