Parents, teachers, students and staff all welcomed Mecklenburg County’s first week of the new school year with hesitancy. As this school year is something completely new for Mecklenburg County, the first week met with several issues.
A majority of complaints lodged on Facebook have cited internet connectivity issues or issues with some of the services students are being asked to use for virtual learning. Internet around the county on September 8-10 seemed to have been bogged down. Lake Country Internet, the company that provided the hotspots for Mecklenburg County Public Schools (MCPS), have acknowledged that hotspots have not been working in many areas and have degraded already weak signals. Lake Country Internet has stated that they are working on the issues as fast as they can.
Additionally, a Facebook group called the “Virtual Learning For Parents of MCPS-VA” has banded together in order for parents to help each other with problems they are facing due to virtual learning. Parents have been able to connect and share troubleshooting solutions for the classroom platforms by using the group. Similarly, some students have reached out to help others in the group.
For technological issues that persist, MCPS recommends calling their helpline at (434) 447-1291 or going online to mcpsweb.org and clicking on the link that reads “click here for 20-21 school year special information.” There should be a box entitled, “Technology Help Desk” on the second page, and a form can be found at “tiny.cc/MCPS.HelpDeskForm” to fill out. Students can also log onto clever.com (the website the district has linked canvas through) from any device. Students and parents are advised to have the student use their school log in information.
Local Bluestone High School teacher, Crista Moody, offers insight into what teachers are facing at this time. She states, “numerous issues crop up each and every day. As teachers, we brainstorm with each other, share any solutions we find, and support each other when no solution presents itself…Our flexibility has been key this year. Administrators share new information as it becomes available. IT helpers work with us one-on-one and in groups when necessary. We are all in this together.”
Mecklenburg teachers are being asked to learn and operate Canvas as well as Google Classrooms and other similar resources. As is the case with some students, Moody says, “Some teachers are not comfortable with technology at all while others thrive. Those of us that are more technologically advanced have been the teacher-leaders to those that might not know as much.” It seems that the success of this school year will come down to team work between parents, students and teachers.
As a reminder, all MCPS students are being provided with free lunch this year; the pickup options for virtual students are as follows: the first is to pickup meals from a school bus delivery. The school buses will deliver to bus stops one day each week; the delivery will include meals for all five days.
The second option is for parents to pick up meals at specified pickup locations from 4:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. each Monday. The pickup locations will be Lacrosse Elementary, Chase City Elementary, Clarksville Elementary, Bluestone Middle and Park View High School.
Once parents of distance education students have made their decision, MCPS asks that they indicate their choice by contacting the school; September 18 is the set deadline for the first nine weeks’ meals.
This school year is beginning to show that patience is key. While no one has all the answers, there is a community of people working together to solve each problem that comes up. Parents can always reach out to the school or teachers with the information that has been provided for them and their student.