Latest remote learning survey shows some interest in continued virtual learning

Westfield Public Schools Superintendent

WESTFIELD – Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski reported to the School Committee on Feb. 22 about a survey sent to district families as a mid-year learning check in. The district has been sending out surveys periodically throughout the pandemic.

Czaporowski said this time the district received 968 responses representing 1,438 students in pre-k through grade 12, a little more than one-quarter of the total student population.

The majority of responses — 72 percent – came from hybrid learners, students who spend time in person learning and at home remotely. Twenty-two percent of respondents were fully remote, and six percent in person daily.

In response to the question, “My child has been able to access the necessary technology for remote learning,” 83 percent responded “always,” 15.5 percent, “sometimes,” and one percent, “never.” Czaporowski said the district would reach out to the “never” respondents to offer assistance. He said there are still hotspots available for students to connect to the internet using their school devices.

Responding to whether “my child has been actively participating in remote learning,” 76.5 percent said “always,” 22 percent, “sometimes,” and one percent, “never.”

The majority response to whether the child has experienced success in remote learning was “sometimes” for 54 percent of the respondents. “Always” received 38 percent, and “never,” eight percent.

The survey also asked about the time spent in synchronous versus asynchronous learning during remote learning. Synchronous learning occurs live in front of a teacher, whether in person or remotely. Asynchronous learning is when students have access to lessons, homework and reading materials to complete on their own.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said their child spends two to four hours in synchronous learning during remote school; 34 percent said more than two hours, and 19 percent said less than two hours.

Just over forty-seven percent said the child spends two to four hours in asynchronous learning; 31 percent said less than two hours, and 21.6 percent more than four hours.

As to whether the child’s teachers have been “attentive, available and responsive,” 74 percent responded “always,” 24.7 percent, “sometimes, and 1.3 percent, “never.”

The survey also asked whether families would be interested in Remote School for their child, 86 percent said no, and 14 percent responded yes.

Czaporowski said the survey showed that 197 students out of those responding are interested in remote learning next year. He said these are students who might leave the district if Westfield Public Schools doesn’t offer remote learning.

“We have a committee that is looking into a remote program,” Czaporowski said, adding that the committee is headed by Susan Dargie, director of curriculum and instruction.

Czaporowski also said the district reached out to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) about pursuing a remote school option. DESE said Westfield was the only one contemplating this, and asked to use them as “guinea pigs.”

“We are also reaching out to students that are homeschooling or have gone to other remote schools. If there’s a need, we have to investigate to fill that need. If we are still in pandemic mode, and the state tells us remote learning has to be an option for our families anyway, we could still launch virtual school. We already have a model in place. I think it’s exciting work – groundbreaking really” Czaporowski said.

“Thank you and your people for the great work you guys have been doing, looking to the future, being proactive, hitting all the right spots for keeping students in our district. I know you guys have been working very hard,” said Committee member Diane Mayhew after the presentation.

“There are some kids, high school students who are more comfortable doing remote, and we have to acknowledge that,” said Committee member Heather Sullivan. “I think it’s a good idea, speaks to exactly what Susan (Dargie) was saying, to take the best parts of what we’re doing right now,” she added.

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