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Coronavirus impacts: E-learning changing course load for Pinellas teachers, students


LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) – Monday is the first day of e-learning for 102,000 students in Pinellas County Schools and their teachers. The schools are currently closed due to COVID-19, forcing teachers to change how they teach and what they’re teaching.

8 On Your Side is speaking with 2 Pinellas County teachers about their 1st day of online school and how they’re adapting to the changes.

“So frustrating,” said High Point Elementary School math and science teacher Kerstin Morris. “All the teachers were all in a group chat this morning saying ‘Mine isn’t working. Everything is gone. It’s all disappeared.’ So at that point, we all realized there is nothing on the teacher end that we can do.”

The school district released a statement saying:

“We realize some of our students and teachers are having trouble using Microsoft Teams, especially as it relates to speed, and receiving an error message when clicking on the Assignments tab. This is a global issue with Microsoft as districts across the country are now logging on to this digital platform. Pinellas County Schools is working with Microsoft to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

Isabel Mascareñas, Pinellas County School District Public Information Officer

Teachers love open communication with parents but they admit it can be overwhelming at times when the system isn’t working. “When you have 36 parents texting where is the assignment and there is nothing you can do about it it’s kind of like…yikes!”

“It’s not just happening here,” said Pinellas Park High School teacher, Wendy Hedeen.
“My friends across the world are experiencing websites crashing.”

Hedeen is a reading teacher at Pinellas Park High School. She says her classroom has been nearly paperless all school year and her lessons these next few weeks will be based on COVID-19. Hedeen’s students will write a book about their experiences during this historical time. “I’m taking a more in the direction of, ‘Hey students, you are literally witnessing and living in history! You need to be getting some eye witness accounts down,'” said Hedeen.

Standardized testing is canceled, which means students can learn at a slower pace instead of the accelerated pace they were supposed to learn at. “It’s definitely a load off,” said Morris. But 8 On Your Side asked how that may impact her elementary math and science students next year. Morris said she thinks there may be a gap but overall she thinks in the grand scheme of their education it will be fine.

Some students still don’t have the internet and won’t have it until Monday. Teachers said they are taking things slow this week while working out the kinks.

Many teachers are pushing forward for students. “I mean, I miss my kids. I just love my job,” said Morris. “We’re going to get through this together. We’ll make it through. It’s what teachers do,” said Hedeen.

Last week many of these teachers worked sun up to sun down learning their new equipment and online platforms to create creative online lesson plans to keep students engaged.

The last day of school is May 29th. Online learning is supposed to last until April 16hth but the school district said it could last longer, it’s a fluid situation.  Stay with 8 On Your Side for the latest developments.

The Pinellas County School District released a video about how students can access e-learning information.


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