Life with the Online Academy format

Jack Almoro, Staff Writer

Junior Deanna Blasko sitting in her living room working on her online academy homework.
Junior Deanna Blasko sitting in her living room working on her online academy homework.

Delaware City Schools has provided students with two learning options this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One option is Blended Learning, where half of the students come to school some days and the others are at home, utilizing online tools to learn on those days and then it switches. The other option is the Delaware City Schools Online Academy, a fully online, at-home learning service.

The district had originally selected the Acellus program as a content delivery system, but following the discovery of racist and sexist content within the site, it had been dropped by the district on August 28.  Many other school districts have made similar decisions since then. 

DCS is hoping to begin instruction using Edmentum at the high school level soon, but in the meantime, Canvas serves as the launch point of the online option; teachers are posting their weekly assignments, announcements, schedules, and virtual meeting times on the site. 

The district provides its students with technology if they need it. The district provided Chromebooks to its students a week before school began at their respective schools.

Around 350 students picked the online option for a multitude of reasons. One of those students is senior Natalie Pennington, who did not want to endanger the lives of others. “It wasn’t worth putting other lives at risk,” Pennington said.

The structure of the academy allows students to finish assignments and projects at a flexible pace. 

“I think because it’s Canvas, it’s already familiar,” Pennington said. “It’s very easy to navigate.”

Pennington sees the pros and cons of this format. The program’s flexibility is a huge plus for students with jobs and other outside activities. 

“Because of the flexibility, I’m able to work way more hours at Chipotle,” she said.

With many plusses, there are a few negatives that just have to do with students and teachers adjusting to the new philosophy of learning online. Online teachers went through some training in the summer to get used to the system, although expectations have changed as the delivery format has evolved.

Some of the problems stem from the communication between the students and the teachers. While teachers are patient and flexible, they may not know what a student has to do in other classes that day.

 “I wish there was a way for teachers to see the meetings you have that day,” Pennington said. “There are days where they overlap.”

With this being her last year at Hayes, Pennington knows she’s missing out on many activities that she had been looking forward to and had done for her last three years at the school. 

“I miss the football games, the senior nights and homecoming,” Pennington said. “I miss just being in a classroom with people I’ve known for years.”

In the meantime, students like Pennington taking the online option and even the students in the Blended Learning option are all making the sacrifice to in the hopes they will regain a regular schedule before the end of the year.