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Local superintendents discuss virtual learning’s challenges



Tuscaloosa, Al.-Tuscaloosa city and county school system leaders agree the first few weeks of school are highlighting the successes and challenges of virtual learning.

“We’ve said all along there’s no substitute for in-class learning,” said Tuscaloosa County School System Superintendent Keri Johnson. “We can’t replicate that in-class experience when you’re at home sitting in front of your computer.”

The biggest challenge is keeping students engaged, Johnson said.

Both superintendents said they’re still optimistic, and they applaud their teachers and staff for quickly adapting to the new system.

“For some it’s been a really decent experience, for others it’s not been a positive experience,” said Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Mike Daria. “But I will say the folks who have done an amazing job at this are teachers.”

Johnson said she believes Tuscaloosa County’s schools are on the right track with their model allowing students to choose in-person learning or remote learning.

“We are going to be giving those remote learners the opportunity to come back at the end of the nine weeks,” said Johnson. “So in the next week or so, our remote learners will be getting an email asking them to let us known what their desire is going to be at the end of the nine weeks if they plan to return to campus or if they plan to stay remote.” 

Johnson and Daria spoke at a Zoom conference hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama on Sept. 9.

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