In COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and students are forced to adjust with workarounds

More than 55 million students are now learning at home. Teachers must navigate educating those without access to internet or computers and other needs while also caring for their own families.
8:40 | 05/20/20

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Transcript for In COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and students are forced to adjust with workarounds
This is my kitchen or my makeshift classroom. There's my desk. On the or side is my white board. This is my new classroom. In my basement. My daughter's dance floor is now my desk. Teaching in America looks quite different these days. When more than 100,000 schools across the country were forced to close their doors in March, 55 million students were deprived of their traditional classrooms. We can't throw away one fourth of our school year. So our teachers are doing remote instruction, using a whole host of different softwares and online applications. Teachers, students and parents alike thrown into a new academic experiment, remote learning. I had several families that did not have access to print capabilities and a few families that did not have devices or internet access at home. Perhaps the biggest challenge, technology as well as the lack of access to it. On the kids and, they're all using different providers and different devices and it is hard to navigate technical problems. In fact, the digital divide is one of the biggest problems facing educators, and the pandemic is emphasizing the haves and have-nots. More than a quarter of homes in the U.S. Lack internet service. I'm doing this for my teacher. This family of five in Seville, Ohio, finishing up their last few assignments. This is my rtc book. Their father Bob works as a general contractor, while their mother Erin works at navigating their new classroom. When the pandemic hit in March, their elementary school gave the family a chrome book. We live in a rural area of Ohio where satellite is our only option, and it's very expensive to set up. And think wanted $400 to set up the satellite, $100 a month after that. We don't have devices, hand-held devices. We have a smartphone, which I'm using now, but that's it. Using Erin's phone for internet access wasn't reliable. I can't tell you how many times my oldest daughter would do an assignment, go to turn it in and mid assignment it would turn off or say "Incomplete send." You know, she would have to redo the whole assignment. The family usually goes with the town's library for internet. With the library closed they had no other options but to rely on good old-fashioned paper. Right now we do have families that come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays and pick up materials for instruction. Although the majority of students have been able to get online there were enough that could not, so clover leaf elementary school set up a system called paper-pencil. We have a system for pickup and dropoff and they are providing a bin where students can pick up new materials and drop off completed materials. You want to find Ms. Watkins over here. There's yours. Go find yours. You can set your test there by the papers. I know everyone is trying their best and this is all new, but there's just been a lot of let down as far as some teachers not checking in daily. The pandemic has revealed enormous inequalities in homes, in schools, in families. So the technological challenges are large, and they are very much connected to a family's financial resources. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the dual language academy, it wasn't just the digital divide that was the challenge. A language divide as well. Here the curriculum is designed for bilingual and biliteral this kindergarten teacher leads her classes in Spanish. A class for 25 kids is now done 25 times. Once for each child. This experiment has also been an adjustment for parents. Patrick Sanchez Jr. Is in the first grade at the dual academy. His mother works nights at the Tulsa police department. With the Spanish, since I'm bilingual, I'm able to Hepa trick with that part more. We're not having to struggle. Patrick's father works full time during the day, so he's there to help with homework at night. He thinks remote learning has been working for their family only because both parents have been able to pitch in. If it was up to me, probably wouldn't work as well. But we're very fortunate. If a child has a parent at home they can sit with and who can coach them through lessons and help them work through worksheets, as were the teacher, were she on zoom, then the kid's probably going to do okay. The real divide I worry about is not one in broadband or laptop access. It's access to an adult who can help you with your schooling throughout the day. Beth grounds has been teaching second grade at Marshall T. Elementary for 17 years. A lot has been new for the past two months. Good morning, Tiffany, how are you? In between teaching math and science, there was crazy hat day. Oh, my gosh, I love your hat. You look great. Did you make your own hat? Zoe, and Oliver, are you there? As well as getting lessons to those who lack technology. I will be out delivering pacts to students. I have one for Omari, Sophia, I have some homework. Grounds says educational apps have been key to making her lesson plans work. Yet something was still missing. I believe that there's a certain magic that happens in the classroom. They learn so much just from the face-to-face communication. How to share, how to compromise. Last Friday, a bittersweet moment. Back where she would like to be, but only to pack up. It was here one day and gone the next, and really didn't have a chance to say their good-byes. Hallways once jammed with hundreds of students now quiet and empty. And it really is sinking in that it is over. In two short months, the pandemic upended traditional learning. Now educators are focussed on improving new ways of learning both on and offline. If we don't do anything differently and try to start the school year, the curriculum as usual, we're going to see a huge divide. We know that some part of learning is going to have to stay remote. Social distancing is going to mean that we can't have every classroom as full of kids. So we need to find a way to make remote learning work. Back in Ohio, co-principal Mike moody is already re-imagining how the school experiment will continue to evolve. We have about three months until school reconvenes in August. So I think about how much has changed in just two months and the possibility of how much could change with our knowledge of the virus, our ability to provide remote instruction, providing ppe that could protect staff and students. So we're concerned about our students. We miss our students. There's a lot of stress and anxiety out there, and we're looking at the next chapter. The FCC this month announced it will grant some Americans temporary access to faster internet speeds to keep more people connected during the pandemic.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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