Check up on distance learning – how are families doing?

MinnPost reports on the extension of distance learning in Minnesota…

During this second phase of distance learning, many things will go unchanged: On-site child care for essential workers will continue, as will free meal pick-up and delivery services. And students should continue to receive a daily interaction with a licensed teacher and appropriate educational materials.

He and Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker highlighted three top priorities, moving forward: maintaining student-teacher relationships, closing technology gaps and addressing students’ mental health needs and well-being.

And MinnPost catches up with the families they spoke to on the first day of distance learning. At Bemidji State…

‘It’s a lot easier, now that I was gifted that laptop’: Alicia Bowstring, student at Bemidji State University, and mother of a first-grader in the Cass Lake-Bena Schools district

But that didn’t fix everything…

Friday afternoon, Bowstring finished out her school week with an exam. It was a make-up for an Ojibwe class that she and a couple of her classmates had missed back when classes were still being held in-person.

Translating over Zoom, however, proved a bit more challenging. She kept asking her teacher to repeat himself, because she couldn’t always make out what he’d said when the connection lagged

In Bloomington…

“It’s a little hard because every day you feel like it’s Groundhog Day. It feels like the same thing every day, which wears on all of us,” Thurow said.

Some things have, more or less, been resolved. The online learning platforms her kids are using aren’t crashing the way they did early on. They were able to work with district staff to rebuild a school-issued iPad that ended up needing an update because the old software wasn’t compatible with the links teachers were sending out.

In Roseville…

Even after every student had been outfitted with a device, many of Le’s students still spent the bulk of this past month waiting on a hotspot so they could access her online office hours — where students can log in to a Google Meet session for face-to-face interactions with their teachers and peers.

The hotspots, which were on backorder, got deployed this past week.

Now that everyone’s connected, she says her initial concern — that not a single one of her students of color had logged in on day 1 — has been laid to rest. “All of my students of color are the first to log in, and the last to log off,” she said, of her office hours online.

In Minneapolis…

For most eighth-graders, this is the first time they’ve ever really had to manage an email account, with reminders and assignments from teachers. And it’s not a skill set that comes easy — even for plenty of adults, he adds.

In Roseville…

His biggest struggle this past month has been not being able to join in on his classes via Zoom. But he’s still able to access the content and turn in his assignments, he says. “So it hasn’t really set me back too far.”

In Anoka-Hennepin schools…

“I am still very hands-on for her,” Haglund said, noting they’ve been working toward building more independence, like having Elaina email her teachers with questions on her own.

In other ways, distance learning has proven more convenient for her daughter, who struggles with processing directions in class.

“Now she can read through instructions at her own pace,” Haglund said, noting it also helps when her teachers include recordings of their instructions that she can review as well.

This entry was posted in education, MN and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s