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Most students had little trouble accessing their school work while remote distance learning, a Blaine County School District survey found—but frustration was common among students, and not all teachers said they felt confident in academically supporting their students from home.

More than 1,600 students, staff and parents responded to the district’s Distance Learning Survey, shedding some light on the challenges and successes of the remote learning program. There were 3,299 K-12 students in the district overall in the 2019-20 school year.

“As this unusual school year comes to a close, planning for the next school year has taken on a different significance,” the district stated in a news release. “Although we believe that a traditional, face-to-face experience with a teacher and peers in a classroom setting is the best learning environment for students, we know we must be ready to adapt to other models should the need arise to keep our students and community safe.”

Eighty-eight percent of students surveyed said they could access their school work from home, the results show. Among parents, 93 percent said their child had reliable access to a tablet, laptop or computer. Seventy-eight percent of parents said they had access to reliable internet service.

But the survey showed challenges for students, parents and teachers alike beyond accessing the work. More than half of all teachers surveyed—57 percent—said they felt confident in supporting their advanced students academically, but around the same number—55 percent—said they did not feel confident about students who needed the most academic support. Nearly 7 in 10 teachers said communicating with families was “challenging” or “somewhat challenging.”

Students, staff and parents all agreed that class meetings via video were one of the most effective distance learning tools, along with one-on-one communication with teachers and regular check-ins.

Frustration was common among students while learning from home, with two-thirds of respondents reporting feeling frustrated “sometimes” or “often.” Half said they sometimes or often felt sad or anxious. At the same time, two-thirds of students said they sometimes or often enjoyed learning at home.

Sixty-two percent of students said they felt confident completing their school work. Just under half of all students—41 percent—said they rarely had someone at home who could help them complete assignments, including 34 percent of kids in third through fifth grades, 44 percent of middle school students and 51 percent of high-schoolers.

Among parents, 41 percent said they didn’t have enough time to support their child with home learning due to their other responsibilities. And 39 percent said their child was in need of such assistance.

On average, the students surveyed said, they worked between one and four hours per day.

Roughly half of all parents who responded—49 percent—said they were concerned about their child’s academic progress. But more than half—53 percent—said they were somewhat or quite satisfied with the distance learning program. Five percent said they were “extremely satisfied” and 43 percent said they were “slightly satisfied” or “not at all satisfied.”

The full survey results can be found in the Superintendent’s Report on the Blaine County School District website.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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