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Virtual Attendance Rule Not Practical

Give educators credit for anguishing over how to teach children in a world turned nearly upside down. COVID-19 has jerked the very foundation of teaching — every-day in-person contact with students — out from under everyone involved.

Last Monday night, as we reported, Ohio County Board of Education members discussed what, if anything, can be done to improve “remote learning.” Much of it relies on the internet.

Earlier this month, Wheeling Park High School began using more live-streaming of classes, in which teachers and students are online at the same time and can interact with each other. School Superintendent Kimberly Miller noted middle schools have “dabbled” in that approach.

It does not seem to be working very well. Board President David Croft said he had been told that of more than 1,400 students at WPHS, only about 237 participate regularly in the live-streamed classes.

That prompted discussion of whether online attendance ought to be required.

Miller cautioned that many families still lack reliable access to the internet. More than 300 “mifi” devices that serve as mobile internet hotspots have been distributed by the school district — but they are not adequate for livestreaming.

Good for board members — and their counterparts in other counties — for wracking their brains in attempts to make “remote learning” better. And good for hundreds of area teachers who are going above and beyond the call of duty to help children.

But forget about mandatory attendance. There are too many reasons why it cannot — and in some cases should not — be enforced.

Little by little, many educators are making progress. But no one was ready for the education demands of the epidemic. At this point, the best approach may be to keep trying, making improvements as possible, and finding ways to be better the next time.

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