SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Red River United Teachers Union leaders have been meeting with NWLA school district leaders to address several concerns raised by educators and families heading into the new school year.
On Wednesday, July 29, they met with the Caddo school leaders to talk about the new learning management system, commonly referred to as LMS, that will be used during the 2020-2021.
“We discussed Canvas, which is the model teachers and students in Caddo Parish will be using for virtual learning and in-person learning,” Jordan Thomas, Education Specialist with Red River United said. “Last year it was Google Classroom and the difficulty with that was that everything was kind of in a separate place for teachers to be able to utilize it as well as students. What Canvas is going to offer is that everything is going to be in one place, a one-stop-shop. So parents can easily utilize this, it’s very user friendly and every platform that they see, whether they have a student in kindergarten or a student in 11th grade, it’s going to look similar on Canvas.”
The safety of those returning to campuses across the district and the quality of education through virtual learning were some of the main talking points at the meeting.
“Just the safety of having students present, coming in, you know, what are we talking about with our masks, with temperature checks, the feasibility of that,” Thomas said. “You know, ensuring that teachers are still going to still have the joys of learning. It’s about the safety of the kids, but about the safety of the teachers and employees as well.”
With students grades sixth through high school seniors using the hybrid model, Thomas says they are going to see more room for socially distancing in the classroom. Caddo Schools will be providing PPE for teachers and staff, as well as making sure classrooms are cleaned and sanitized.
Privacy concerns and confidentiality when it came to filming class for students who would be learning virtually also came up.
“When you are talking about filming a classroom and having students in there being present, you know, what is that going to look like,” Thomas said. “How are we going to protect our students, as well as our teachers and staff?”
Thomas says Red River United sent out a survey to teachers asking what they want to see in the upcoming school year. The survey showed a majority of teachers who participated want to be back in the classroom.
“They want to have their students in person,” Thomas said. “That’s the model they know. That’s how they make the connections with their students they enjoy making. Being able to look at them, talk to them, interact with them. So we know teachers want to be back in the classroom, but they just want to make sure their health will be protected and the students’ health protected as well. They feel responsible. Responsible for what their kids are learning and how they are protected.”
Thomas says Red River United will continue to meet with district administration in Caddo, Bossier and Red River schools to continue addressing concerns leading up to the school year.
“We are trying to do everything that we can to make sure it is the best plan possible, but there is a lot of unknowns,” Thomas added. “We know that with the unknown it’s scary and so it’s just to be patient. I know that’s easier said than done, but just know we are here for you, we are listening to you, your district personnel are listening to you. We are going to make sure we have the very best plan possible, but that plan is not going to be the typical plan we have each and every school year.”