Some Desoto County parents having issues with virtual learning

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 5:06 PM CDT
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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. (WMC) - Nearly three weeks after the start of school, some parents of virtual learning students with DeSoto County Schools are unhappy with what they’ve seen. The district said the educational method is a learning curve for all, but parents may soon see some benefits to it.

“I feel like we were sold a lemon, so to speak,” DCS parent Cassandra Wooten said.

Wooten has grown increasingly concerned about her high schooler’s education as a virtual learning student with DeSoto County Schools. She said a Virtual Learning Program Expectation and Requirements list sent to parents had her believing her daughter would have regular interaction with teachers. Part of the list says “[Instruction] could include recorded or live teaching from the classroom teacher.”

“I think there’s confusion between virtual learning and online,” Wooten said. “My idea of virtual is there’s some visual connectivity between the student and the educator. So far, there have only been assignments posted.”

Wooten said her daughter has had no live instruction from any teacher since the start of school. Some have posted prerecorded lessons. She said questions emailed to teachers take hours for a response.

“That’s during the same time of day teachers are actually teaching in the classroom,” Superintendent Cory Uselton told WMC Action News 5 last week. “So it has put a bigger burden on our teachers.”

No one from DCS was available to speak to us on camera Thursday, but in previous interviews since school began, Superintendent Cory Uselton has said the asynchronous learning model works for some families.

“It works well for a lot of parents who work during the day and come home in the evenings to help their child with the assignments, but there’s pros and cons to both sides,” Uselton said.

In a previous email from DCS sent to WMC Action News 5 about parents’ concerns about the lack of a definitive schedule and attendance, the district sent this response:

“For Asynchronous Online Mode, the weekly minimum requirement is to have an interaction via video, phone call, etc. with students at least once a week. This time will be scheduled by the teachers during the traditional school day.”

Wooten said her child has had one phone call with three teachers since the start of school.

“I sympathize with the schools, educators and the district, but I sympathize with my child more,” Wooten said.

Parents can reevaluate their decision of in-person or virtual learning after the first nine weeks of school and switch their decision if they would like.

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