Palm Springs Unified School District is now in its first full week of online education for the 2020 academic year.
Students like Emily Blackwell, an 8th grader at Raymond Cree Middle School, say the transition has been much smoother than the sudden switch last spring.
While many families have dealt with technology issues, Emily’s mother Jennifer says they’ve been lucky, but have had to make some changes.
“I just make sure everyone except for my other daughter is off, and the only two people online are them. And that’s what you have to do until at least they get out of school and then everyone can go back on after that,” said Jennifer Blackwell.
For families dealing with wifi issues, Palm Springs Unified has given out over 4,200 hot spots, supporting about 18 percent of their student body.
The districts director of technology has been busy throughout the last week helping families get connected.
“We’ve got 22,500 students. I’d say we’ve fielded about 120 questions about parents who can’t connect, or parents who have to work and can’t help the kid do the zoom,” said Will Carr.
Carr also says parent involvement has increased tremendously this school year, something Jennifer Blackwell is experiencing first hand.
“No doubt,” said Jennifer, “We do have one parent in the home, I actually work and he’s here to watch or help. I think we’re fortunate that Emily is in eighth grade, my other daughter is in sixth grade. I think it would be a little more of a struggle if they were in first grade or second grade.”
While other parents may still be in need of help, PSUSD is offering technology resources Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and Carr says he’s now gathering data to help teachers get more information about their students.
“So I can see every time a student logs in, the time they access their content, how much time they spend accessing their content, either one way or two way. And so we’re going to start getting data on that to see what pockets of students are doing really well, and which ones need more support,” said Carr.
PSUSD is the first to embark on the 2020-2021 academic year.
Coachella Valley Unified School district starts on August 14th, while Desert Sands Unified begins on the 19th.