As students in Cannon Beach begin the school year distance learning at home, The Gazette spoke to some parents about the experience.
Some said distance learning is not as desirable as in-person learning. But, given the health concerns of the current situation, they say distance learning has its positives. For one thing, it gives them more time to spend together as a family.
Cannon Beach residents Dave and Hilary Herman have two children in middle school. The couple opted to enroll their children for the entire school year in an online public charter school in Marion County called The Oregon Charter Academy. The Seaside School District also has its students in online classes.
Dave said they chose the charter school because it has been teaching students online for many years as opposed to the Seaside School District, which only recently began an online program.
Also, Hilary said they like the flexibility of online learning.
She said they thought about how to maximize this situation as a family. They plan to take some time to travel.
The Seaside School District will continue to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases periodically and may at some time during the school year return to in-person learning.
“There is no perfect solution for what this year has turned into,” Hilary said. The opportunity with distance learning to have family time is “huge.”
She said, the family usually feels like they are running a race to keep up with schooling, work life and sports, but now they have more time together.
They are happy with the program so far, she said.
Dave described a typical school day, which begins with the children clicking on a class on the computer and reading the assignments for the week. The students also have three zoom classes per subject a week, which gives them the opportunity to interact with the teacher and other students.
Sometimes the students are broken into smaller groups to work on a problem together in a zoom meeting, then come back to the zoom class with the teacher.
Classes started after Labor Day.
“The program is pretty intuitive and not confusing to the boys about what they need to accomplish,” Dave said. “There is a significant amount of work. It is not easy.”
“This is probably as good as it can get for online schooling,” he said.
He would rather his children could attend in-person classes “but for the circumstances we’re in, this is as good as we can do at this time,” he said.
Emma Molyneux has two children in grade three at the Cannon Beach Academy, which is part of the Seaside School District. She supervises a third child for another parent. They are all distance learning at this time.
Each child is in a separate room sitting in front of a computer, Molyneux said.
She said each is required to have a certain number of hours in virtual learning a week, “live with their teacher.” The day consists of three hours of “teacher time” and the remainder is spent working on independent study assignments. School hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. One hour is set aside for recess and lunch.
She and the students sit around a big dining room table to work on the independent study assignments, she said.
“I love the Cannon Beach Academy model,” she said. “It’s easy for the parents to understand what’s required” of the students. “The parents are not teaching, just assisting with independent work.”
“It’s pretty easy for the students to follow along,” she said.
She would prefer her children attended in-person learning classes because being more isolated is “emotionaly and socially detrimental to them, but our state’s metrics don’t support being in school,” she said. “In a perfect world, it would be better to have students learning together in person.”
“My son really likes learning online,” she said. “He finds it more efficient, less distractions.”
“My daughter is a social butterfly and would prefer in-person learning,” she said. “But she likes the time with her parents – the parent support.”