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Webster Parish weathers virtual school day

by Amber McDown

In-class school changed to virtual classes last Friday due to the anticipated weather conditions in Webster Parish. Students attended meetings and completed assignments at home using Google Classroom and the Chromebooks provided by the school district.

“I was never concerned about the roads. Our concern was for the bridges and elevated surfaces,” said Superintendent Rowland at this month’s school board meeting. “We’re going to always err on the side of caution—every time.”

Mr. Rowland continued, “When it became apparent that school would most likely be closed, Ms. Banks and Ms. Hudson came to me and said, ‘We can have virtual school tomorrow. We’re ready. We’ve been prepared for this.’” Messages were sent to all the principals to have teachers prepare to teach virtually on Friday.

A survey was sent to the major stakeholders, such as principals, teachers, administrators, parents, and students, to request feedback on how the day went. Recipients were asked to rate the day on a scale of one to five (with one being low and five being excellent) and to provide explanations for the rating chosen as well as any suggestions for improvement. 

At the time of the meeting, approximately 330 responses had been received. Over 80% of respondents were parents. 

About 60% of respondents rated the day, overall, as either a four or five. Some of the comments from parents included “My kids received good instruction for their work in the Google Classroom,” “The teachers were great at delivering lessons to the kids. The students were very attentive and were participating as if they were in the classroom,” “Even though school was out for weather, students were still able to attend.” Comments attached to lower ratings were frequently concerned with internet and connection issues. 

“Overall, I think that a major focus of what all major stakeholders and parents are asking for is more communication between everyone,” said Ms. Hudson. “We are communicating better, but there is room for even more communication. I’m very pleased with the results.”

Results from the survey will be sent to each school so that they can use the data to make improvements.

If school had been canceled as a “snow day,” it would have had to have been made up at the end of the year. Because school was conducted virtually, it counts as a regular school day.

Mr. Rowland stated, “Is it perfect? No. No way it can ever be. Is it like being in person for most of our kids? No. But it’s a very, very good alternative to be able to offer our kids than simply just doing nothing.”

The school board’s next meeting will be March 14th at 6:00 pm at the school board office. The public is welcome to attend.

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