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How younger Ottumwa students learn virtually: challenges and changes

Two Ottumwa families share with KYOU how their students have been learning virtually.
Two Ottumwa families share with KYOU how their students have been learning virtually.(KYOU)
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 6:00 AM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - There is a new normal for the Chapa kids. Instead of waking up, eating breakfast, and heading out to the school in the morning, they instead head right to their study room and sit down in front of their laptops. It’s where they stay for much of the day. But it was a decision that Jerod Chapa and his wife, Lindsey wanted to make for their kids: “Our son and my wife both had a history of asthma. I have as well. We just thought it was safer...we didn’t really want to take the risk.”

For elementary-aged students, they’re able to meet with a teacher over ZOOM three times a day, with only one meeting required.

An Ottumwa teacher has been put in charge of each school grade for virtual learners. And for the Chapas, it’s worked.

Lindsey says her daughter had a question and she was able to do a 1-on-1 zoom with a teacher. 2 minutes later she had the question answered and figured the question out.

And instead of spending seven hours in school and going home, these students simply have to complete their assignments and call it a day.

But for the Hernandez family, with elementary- and middle school-aged students, sometimes that isn’t enough…

Amy Hernandez, their stay-at-home mother, has come up with other activities: “I also help with skills at home...like baking or cooking.” She also teaching them basic Spanish.

But sometimes, learning virtually can have its challenges. Especially for Amy’s middle schooler, who had trouble in math, and only has 15 minutes a week to spend in a call with a teacher. Amy says she had to "help my student with every lesson because there would be examples or she wouldn’t understand the content, so I would have to explain to her how to do a particular skill.”

But Amy says as much as they’ve had troubles, now they’re having triumphs, and seeing the same level of success with their virtual students as to when they were face-to-face. And the same can be said for the Chapa family.

But not every parent has the ability to stay home and help their student. Amy told KYOU about nearby virtual learners whose parents work, and are left home all day. If they have any questions they head to Amy’s house.

And when the choice is between feeling safe from COVID-19...or having teachers always present...it can be a tough call. But these two families are making it work.

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