HERNDON, Va. — After Fairfax County Public Schools added classroom streaming for students forced to stay home because of COVID-19, some teachers are pushing back.
The change came about after the entire Herndon High School football team had to isolate after a couple of positive COVID-19 cases at the end of August, and parents lobbied for streaming.
FCPS added streaming after presenting the plan to the school board on Thursday, but some teachers are concerned about the ramifications.
David Walrod, a teacher at FCPS, who also serves as the first Vice President of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, worries that the live streaming will evolve into concurrent learning -- which even the superintendent said wasn't ideal for students.
“This limited streaming opportunity really to let kids stream in and listen and watch lets them keep a connection," superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand said last week. "But it is not concurrent instruction as we did last year, which really weighed heavily on our teachers and kids felt they weren't getting the same kind of attention whether they were in person or whether they were virtual.”
Walrod believes that even though FCPS said streaming will be one-way communication, where teachers only have to turn the camera on, it will spiral into more expectations.
“We start from saying, 'All you have to do is turn the camera on when you’re doing a whole group lesson'…and that’s going to turn into, 'Well you need to make sure you share your screen, too, so they’re seeing that stuff.' And then -- 'Well you need to make sure you have digital copies of everything you’re doing so students can follow along with you,'" he said. "Like it’s just going to turn into a lot of little things.”
He said if he sees a student at home asking for help, he'll be hard-pressed to ignore them.
Instead of live streaming, he suggests taping lessons for students to watch on their own time.
“That way, there could be a lesson that's tailored right for the students that are out," Walrod said.
He also claims the teachers' associations were only notified about the streaming plan a couple of hours before last Thursday's school board meeting.
A spokesperson for FCPS refutes that, however, saying they gave associations the heads up days in advance and that the superintendent presented both recording and streaming options to the school board.
That spokesperson also emphasized that since streaming is only for when a class is impacted by a COVID-19 case, that it wouldn't be a daily occurrence -- in theory.
Walrod admits that none of his classes have had COVID-19 cases yet, but he believes it's only a matter of time.
The superintendent also said last week that vaccination is still the best way to keep students in class. He said so far, 80% of students aged 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated.