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Online learning still a challenge for students, districts say it’s getting better

Oct 1, 2020, 7:27 PM | Updated: 7:28 pm
Utah Education Association calls to move many secondary schools online...
Online learning has been a challenge for many students, (West High School, Salt Lake City. Credit: Paul Nelson)
(West High School, Salt Lake City. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – When the Salt Lake City School District transitioned to online learning last semester, hundreds of students did not log-on. This time around, the district spokeswoman Yandary Chatwin says things are going better. 

“Our login rate this week is 94.3%, and our attendance last year [at this time] was 94.7%. Slightly lower, but about on par with what attendance looks like for in-person school in a regular year,” Chatwin said. 

The district handed out thousands of iPads over the summer, as well as internet hotspots, to help students stay online.

A big difference, says Chatwin, is teachers are contacting the families of children who do not log on. 

“Some of it is just due to absences like in any other school year. But our teachers are going out, they’re still working on home visits, connecting with families one-on-one to see if it’s just a simple tech issue or if there’s something broader going on,” Chatwin said. 

The nearby Granite School District also had issues with online education last semester.

This semester, most students attend in-person classes four days a week. However, about 30% of their students have chosen to continue online education. 

The district has not yet published how many students are logging onto their system. 

Spokesman Ben Horsley did confirm that participation in online learning platforms is getting better, but also acknowledged that “it will always be challenging”. 

While it’s easier for students to get online, in many districts both parents and kids have continued to complain that some portals do not work as well as intended. 

As for the quality of online education, several parents and teachers in Utah worry about their kids falling behind. But others say they like online learning.  

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