Virtual learning options are wide among South Mississippi schools

Virtual learning options are wide among South Mississippi schools

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Virtual learning or in-class learning.

Thanks to coronavirus, it’s a decision some parents have to make. Others will not get a choice.

Some districts are making virtual— or distance— learning an easier option while others are limiting that choice.

The Biloxi Public School District has had 1,500 students sign up for their virtual learning option. George County schools announced Monday they are opening their virtual learning option to all students, regardless of medical need. And they will delay the start of the school year by one week.

Some districts either aren’t offering virtual learning or are making tighter restrictions.

“The bottom line is this: You can not replace a teacher in a classroom with the quality of instruction children are getting while at school,” said Wayne Rodolfich, superintendent of the Pascagoula-Gautier School District. “And at this point, we have a nine-week deficit from last year and you have the common summer slide that you have during the summertime.”

“We are making the effort to put the best effort forward to help all of our children have the greatest measure of success as students in our schools, and trying to minimize the gap in learning that is taking place right now,” he said.

That is why the district in East Jackson County is limiting the availability of virtual learning.

While both the Ocean Springs and Pascagoula-Gautier school districts did remove their requirement for a doctor’s note to qualify for virtual learning, Pascagoula-Gautier has a stricter standard.

“They’re going to have to provide us with medical documentation through their writing, exactly what their concern is,” Rodolfich said.

Gulfport School District, on the other hand, is hoping virtual students will help limit classroom crowding and make social distancing easier.

“We have been trying to push virtual, we have been trying to let parents know that this is an option because we do have families that have that option to do virtual,” said Jane Thompson, virtual learning coordinator for the Gulfport School District. “Those students are very safe at home, we know that is the lowest risk possible and we want to offer that to everyone.

“But for those students who have to come to school because their parents are working full time, that will put even fewer students in our classroom and it will allow us to socially distance more and make our classrooms safer for those who have to come every day.”

And even with the best plans and technology, school districts know there will be adjustments along the way.

“We have the mindset that we are going to be making adjustments along the way,” said Ocean Springs School District Assistant Superintendent Christopher J. Williams Sr. “We’re not proclaiming that we have a plan that is flawless. We’re going to be learning and growing together as a system, and so we’re just excited and looking forward to these opportunities to better our services and what we will be able to do with our students virtually.”

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