School Closure Opens Online Learning Discussion

How will Dartmouth handle its academics in the face of pandemic?


In the last two weeks, speculation on the subject of DHS shutting down due to COVID-19 concerns grew considerably, as other schools announce closings. With the announcement on Friday that Dartmouth Public Schools would be closed for the week of March 16-20, many believe that remote learning is the best option to learn outside of school.

Several universities in Massachusetts, including Harvard, MIT, and  UMass Amherst have canceled classes for the remainder of the semester and have provided students with the tools for online learning while housebound. Others, such as WPI and UMass Dartmouth, have delayed the start of the next term, or extended spring break in response to the pandemic.

Several Massachusetts public school districts like Sharon, Andover, and Natick, had suspended classes. CBS Boston reported that two Natick High School students have tested positive for COVID-19, but daily school operations continued. According to MetroWest Daily News, Natick students organized a walkout over the administration’s response to the viral threat, prompting the districts’ shutdown starting last Friday.

When school cancellations occur, especially for the long periods of time necessitated by the pandemic response, a major concern is how students will continue to receive their education while not in the classroom. If Dartmouth Public Schools follows the same fate of cancellation, this is a question that will have to be dealt with. Schools around the nation have attempted remote learning in the face of this crisis, a relatively new option that the internet has enabled. “In certain situations, I think it is a great option to have,” said Foreign Language Teacher Marillia Viana on the subject of remote learning. “Teachers are able to teach the material without physically being in school. We are also able to give quality feedback which addresses students’ needs.”

Most DHS teachers enroll their classes in Google Classroom, a well-featured web-service by Google for education systems. Teachers are able to add, share, and grade school work through Google Classroom. Some teachers, however, are not as proficient using Google Classroom or planning an online teaching plan for students. “I don’t think anybody in the Math Department knows how to plan a class online,” said Math Teacher Rosa Costa. 

“I don’t think it’s going to work for me,” said senior Alexis Arruda. Just like the teachers, students will have to adapt to online classes. “I need to be explained things to learn,” said Alexis, “and I also hate computer work.”

Teachers are able to interact with students through Google Classroom and stream lessons through other Google outlets, but some teachers do not utilize Google Classroom. “It’s a nice idea but some teachers don’t have a Google Classroom set in place. Realistically, I think this is going to be a week where teachers assign minimal work, and I catch up and study for Calculus,” said the senior. 

But for some classes, online schooling would have minimum alterations to their curriculums. Technology and coding classes are especially unaffected. In AP Computer Science A, where most assignments are already online, not a lot would change. As Business and Technology Teacher Patricia Kane said, “We would continue with our assignments on Google Classroom and CodeHS, like normal.”