Connecting safely: Remote learning options for COVID-19 related absences

Signs+reminding+community+members+to+stay+home+if+feeling+ill+and+to+follow+COVID-19+protocols+are+posted+all+around+campus.+If+students+do+experience+such+symptoms%2C+they+have+the+option+to+access+online+learning.%C2%A0

Photo credit: Lizette Gonzalez

Signs reminding community members to stay home if feeling ill and to follow COVID-19 protocols are posted all around campus. If students do experience such symptoms, they have the option to access online learning. 

By Lizette Gonzalez, Senior Reporter

The entire student body has now returned to the halls of Archer for the 2021-2022 school year, a first since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020. Although classes are back to being in-person, students have the option to access online learning when they would need to follow Archer’s COVID-19 protocols.

According to Archer’s remote learning practices, as written in class syllabi, students can only Zoom into classes if they are staying home to honor COVID-cautious protocols and if they feel healthy enough to do so. If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, were exposed to it, failed the daily symptom screen check or needed to stay home for precaution, they are welcome to access online learning by notifying their teachers and Archer’s Health and Safety Practitioner, Amanda Butch.

“In this COVID world that we all live in, there are going to be situations that are out of student’s control and teacher’s control,” Farley said. “We wanted to move forward with a plan that gets students as much access to their schoolwork if they happen to be in a situation where they are either asymptomatic or are having to quarantine because they were exposed [to COVID-19].”

Teachers have the autonomy to decide what practices are best for their particular class dynamic. Teachers can choose to Zoom in students for parts of their class, pair them up with a student in-person via Zoom, hand out asynchronous work through the class Learning Hub page or implement any other system they see fit.

“Our teachers are really skilled, so we trust them with what they think is appropriate for their students and for their class,” Farley said. “That’s why it’s not a general policy; you may see something in [an] English class that’s different in a science class.”

Students in history teacher Kathleen Niles’ class had to do remote learning during the first week of school due to COVID-related circumstances. Niles said that even though it was not an ideal situation, it’s an important option students have in order to maintain engagement while still abiding by guidelines.

“It’s important that kids who have to be quarantined have the option [of remote learning] because the quarantine is pretty lengthy, and it’s for the safety of the whole community,” Niles said. “We don’t want radio silence with our students.”

If kids are sick, they should try to get better. Get well, and then Zoom in if you are healthy. ”

— Kathleen Niles

An integral part of maintaining constant engagement and connection from a student at home was pairing them up with a student in-person, Niles said.

“It was mostly just to have the student [at home] have someone who can monitor them, so that the student knew what was happening in class or [could] alert me if they had questions,” Niles said.

Junior London Dorton had to do online learning during the first week of the school year to comply with quarantine protocols after an out of state trip. She stated that the Zoom buddy system helped her feel present in her classes.

“It was a lot better to have a Zoom buddy so that I was able to be more involved in the class. I felt I was actually part of the classroom,” Dorton said. “I think the teachers are so focused on who’s in the classroom sometimes that it was hard to balance both, so buddies really helped.”

Farley said he is proud of the Archer community for taking COVID-19 seriously and following the guidelines in place.

“Safety is most important,” Farley said. “As is the education of our students.”