Virtual platforms to be used for next year

Hannah Lahey

Students will continue using virtual learning platforms for the 2021-22 school year. 

“Now that teachers have become experienced users of technology, we will see a more blended classroom with technology integration throughout a lesson,” said Principal Kimberly Martin.

Martin hopes that the use of digital learning will be among other continuations of policies implemented during the pandemic. However, the school internet continues to be a problem for students and staff. 

According to Martin, the school administration and board have been made aware of the internet problems and they are devising solutions. 

“There are infrastructure and bandwidth improvements that are expected. That will be ongoing and unrolling during the summer,” said Martin. The emphasis on the quality of the internet is in-part due to the Empowered Learners Initiative (ELi). The initiative focuses on a 1:1 student to device ratio.

The three-year investment in digital education focuses on more access to technology, technologically enhancing the DCPS curriculum, digital development for the teachers, and increasing information and access for families. In order to enhance hands-on learning, students will be provided with devices. Students will continue to use textbooks and participate in hands-on learning, but they will also have the devices available as an additional resource. 

The devices provided by the ELi initiative will offer resources from the Microsoft platform. While in school, devices are restricted from accessing non-Microsoft sites commonly used in instruction.

As students began to transition back to in-person learning, the poor quality of learning through virtual platforms was highlighted. While Wilson is operating at a maximum 20 percent capacity, students and staff note the worsening quality of the internet.

“Wi-Fi was never a problem before distance learning because we had everything on paper. It was simpler and more efficient to understand and complete,” sophomore Sarah Panetta said. 

Health teacher Tia Clemmons echoed Panetta’s sentiment, adding that she faces frequent Wi-Fi and connection problems while she only faced them occasionally before the pandemic. Because COVID forced teachers to create lessons and assignments entirely online, connection problems are a larger complication as they provide the material and outline for all classes and classwork. 

But the attention and financial support that the ELi initiative will bring next year has sparked hope among some students and teachers. 

Spanish teacher Victor Vela has been teaching a small number of in-person classes, and looks forward to use of digital platforms in-person. “[I’ll be] able to show videos and access most of the websites without any problem.” •