Glitches, disorganization upend 1st day of OCSB virtual school
Principal of virtual program wants parents to 'stick with us'
The principal of the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) virtual school is asking parents for patience following a chaotic first day, including a lot of waiting around at home for instructions.
About 4,000 of the 6,500 elementary school students who opted out of in-person learning at the OCSB were supposed to begin online classes Tuesday between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. depending on the class — but a note went out to parents at noon conceding technical difficulties would hamper most students from actually having a class.
The letter promised an email from their designated teacher about how to login on Wednesday.
"If it got off to a rocky start today, I'm asking for parents' patience," said virtual school principal Andrea Green. "I'm asking for them to stick with us."
The OCSB only received parent decisions on whether to opt for virtual learning in late August. That's when the staffing for the virtual school began, with some teachers getting their class assignments as late as on Monday.
"We are hiring brand new teachers in the last week, and some of these teachers just received an employee ID number," said Green, so just getting them their class lists and navigating the virtual platform "was a little bit of a hiccup."
Parent Chandra Pasma said her three kids went to bed the night before knowing neither their teacher's name, nor what time to log on in the morning to begin virtual school.
"My three remote learners are currently in the living room watching TV and playing video games," Pasma said at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
We have sent an update to our <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ocsbVirtual?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ocsbVirtual</a> families and posted the update here 👇! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ThankYou?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ThankYou</a> for your patience and understanding. <a href="https://t.co/8soinUsIRg">pic.twitter.com/8soinUsIRg</a>—@OttCatholicSB
She finally received the email with instructions by 4 p.m. for her twins in Grade 2, only to receive a second email from another Grade 2 teacher an hour later suggesting she was teaching the two seven year olds.
"So we've gone from no invitations to class meetings to too many invitations to class meetings," she said late Tuesday.
"It's frustrating because we spent the weekend getting ready and preparing the kids mentally because they haven't been in school for six months now."
She wished the school had taken their time and delayed to get ready for the first day.
Parent Jennifer O'Brien-Tomka has a daughter who was supposed to start Grade 1 on Tuesday and a son in Grade 6 beginning Wednesday.
My 7-yo are supposed to be starting school this morning at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ocsbVirtual?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ocsbVirtual</a>. We had them up and set up to go by 8. However, we have still not heard anything about when or where they are supposed to go. Called the <a href="https://twitter.com/OttCatholicSB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OttCatholicSB</a> office, they said we will get an email some time today.—@ChandraPasma
While O'Brien-Tomka did hear from a teacher for her youngest the evening before class was to start, like Pasma, she too had no information by start of the class day about how to log on.
"They're keen to learn and keen to get going, so I think they're a little bit upset this morning," said O'Brien-Tomka, who said she tried to recreate for her daughter a real first day of school experience — getting up early and taking photos in a new outfit.
Still, she says, she wasn't expecting much the first week.
"I'm trying to take the approach of 'go with the flow,' which isn't always easy when you're also trying to juggle this with work," said O'Brien-Tomka, "They're learning patience through this whole exercise which will hopefully serve them well in their lives."
Green said there were a few teachers who did manage to actually log children into a virtual class on Tuesday morning, and she said, this week will be about getting the technology glitches worked out for everyone else.
<a href="https://t.co/Cn5ffPe0NU">https://t.co/Cn5ffPe0NU</a><br>A tutorial I created to inform parents on the resources available for Virtual Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Hopefully it makes this new way of learning a little easier to understand! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ocsb?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ocsb</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ocsbVirtualAcademy?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ocsbVirtualAcademy</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/OCSB_LT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OCSB_LT</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/uOttawaEdu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@uOttawaEdu</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/StMartinOCSB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StMartinOCSB</a>—@Miss_T2019