Bay District Schools students begin distance-learning

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Across the nation, students are logging in to virtual classrooms as they begin distance-learning during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s no different for Bay District Schools students, parents, teachers and administrators, who began their distance-learning programs this week.

According to BDS officials, around 90 percent of students were able to successfully log in to their online classrooms on Monday, and paper-based learning materials were distributed to the parents and students who requested it.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt said on Tuesday that amid some hiccups, he believes the district is adapting to the changes well.

“To see that we had 90 percent on at one time or another yesterday is amazing,” said Husfelt. “We feel good about that, we still need more hotspots for students that are in areas where they don’t have wi-fi and different things like that, and we’re still giving out laptops as we can provide them to students.”

Students, teachers and parents taking part in online distance-learning said it’s been a unique experience full of different emotions, including sadness over lost experiences, frustration over technical difficulties, and positivity surrounding the community’s ability to work through the challenges.

Bay High Senior Alisha Campbell said it’s not exactly how she envisioned her last weeks of high school would be. 

“Friday before we left, if you would have told me this would be my last day I probably would have hugged my senior friends a little bit harder,” said Campbell.

Bay High AICE English teacher, Crystal Bullock, said it’s a change for everyone and a challenge for many as they navigate connectivity issues, work from home, and adjust to the times.

“This is one of those situations as a nation, as a world, where we’re just building this bike as we ride it,” said Bullock.

However, Bullock said that the distance is, in a way, bringing people closer together; she said on the first day of offering optional online office hours, students would log on simply to be able to talk to her and their classmates. 

“Kids were bringing their guitars and playing and things I didn’t even know that they did,” said Bullock. “I’m getting to know them in a way that I didn’t know before and didn’t expect.”

One of her students, Wesley Littleton, said the new learning environment is teaching lessons that can’t be learned from a book.

“I think this helps teach students to adapt,” said Littleton. “It also helps them learn to be flexible and that things don’t always have to be one way. We can do things in different ways.”

Regarding some of the connectivity problems students and teachers were having on Monday, Husfelt said he is confident that programmers across the country are working out some of the technical issues with websites being used for online-learning, as several of those websites experienced slow connections due to the high volume of traffic across the country.

Husfelt is encouraging all parents who have not yet heard from their student’s teacher(s) to contact the school or call the district’s helpline at 850-767-HELP.


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