Polk parents, students adjust to virtual learning

Countless parents just got a second job, as a teacher, because of COVID-19.

Students in Polk County, and across the country, are now sitting in front of a computer screen, distance learning online.

RELATED: Florida public school campuses to remain closed through April

Ten-year-old Taylor Hewitt said it’s not easy not to be able to directly talk to a teacher that could help.

Her mom, Layla, stepped in to help and said it’s a lot of work. “There’s no way I would want to do this full-time,” she said with a smile.

If kids don’t necessarily need an answer immediately, they can reach out to their teacher.

Dr. Vincent Miller, Polk County Teacher of the Year, said he gets text messages at all hours of the day and night, and answers everyone because whether it’s in the classroom or online, kids are eventually going to be held to the same standard.

“Come tomorrow, they still have to take the SAT. Come tomorrow, they still have to get into college,” he commented during a Zoom session with a group of reporters on Wednesday.

Miller said one of the most eye-opening things he learned since Polk County went to virtual schooling is that many kids are not as techno-savvy as he thought. “A lot of students don’t even know how to email,” Miller commented. 

He said in many cases, the kid’s first lesson was not pertaining to the course material. “It was how to sign on, how to log on. How can I get onto my platform to get these certain apps,” he said.

The lack of knowledge on the part of some children is complicated by the fact that different teachers use different platforms. Not all devices, like iPhones, laptops, and tablets, work with every platform.

“So what works for one student doesn’t seem to be the same for everybody,” said Erin Lavelle, a language and literature teacher at Lawton Chiles Middle.

“It’s new for all of us,” said Jennifer Horvatin, a fifth-grade teacher at Highland City Elementary. “Give it a chance. We’ll work it out, just like we do in the classroom. We’ll work it out.”

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LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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