In Iberia Parish, parents who opted to put their children in virtual learning programs are facing different challenges and mixed reactions to the educational format.
It’s a problem that the Iberia Parish School District has recognized as well, which has led to the district allowing parents to transition students back from virtual to face-to-face learning next week.
Virtual learning, which came about as a way for the district to educate students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been fraught with several technical difficulties and workload problems since the beginning of the school year, according to several parents who have children in the school system and several students.
Eleventh grader Javyn Smothers at Westgate High School said that she has been handling virtual learning mostly on her own since her family is not as knowledgeable about the technology.
Virtual learning, Smothers said, could have gone better with changes like video calls for classes. The educational program named Edgenuity has been mostly fine but has had its setbacks, she said.
“Edgenuity is fine to be honest, but when it comes to those subjects where you have to ask questions you really cannot do so,” Smothers said. “All Google does is give you a scientific answer just for a common sense problem.”
Brittany Robicheax, who has a first grader in virtual learning, said some of the programs for virtual learning didn’t work for the first three days of the school year, which led to her daughter being unable to complete some of the work that was being assigned.
“But I know that we made the right decision to keep our daughter in virtual because of her health issues,” she said.
With the district now allowing virtual learning students to make the transition back, Robicheaux said she was unsure if she would take advantage of it.
“To be honest, we’ve been weighing the options about it,” she said.
Other parents have been harsher about the virtual learning system, saying there has been nothing but setbacks and lack of resources for guiding the programs.
“Very unorganized,” parent Amber Guidry said about virtual learning. “Almost feels as if we were set to fail at this.”
Other parents said they have been satisfied with the experience. Krystal Viator, who has a senior at Westgate High School, said that her daughter has been doing just fine with the virtual learning system.
“She loves the program,” Viator said. “She is a shy person and loves the idea of virtual learning, she feels she is doing better than face to face, I guess because it’s at her own pace.”
Meishea Olivier, who has a 10th grader at New Iberia Senior High, said her daughter was also adjusting to the program.
“Personally, we had a few stumbling blocks with full virtual for the first few days. But, I think we’re on track now,” Olivier said.
Olivier’s daughter, who she said has ADHD and is in the 504 program, usually has problems keeping up with the teachers in class. In virtual learning, Olivier said she can work at her own pace.
Olivier added that while the initial instructions given for virtual learning was a bit of a stumbling block, her daughter is doing fine with the program now.
Many parents have been exchanging experiences about virtual learning through a social media Facebook group.
When the decision became public that a transition away from virtual learning would become possible, many parents commented with mixed reactions. Some parents said virtual learning was working fine for their children while others felt there was a lack of answers from those who were supposed to be aiding parents with the learning system.
For parents who choose to bring their children back to a hybrid or face-to-face learning system, the transition will begin next week.