Online learning emerges as a key issue from Tennessee House hearings

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — School online learning emerged as one of the key issues during ten-hour hearings by Tennessee state lawmakers that wrapped up Wednesday.

“We are going to have our hands full and we all need to be on the same page,” said House Education Committee Chair Mark White.

It was a statement about the delicate nature of Tennessee K-12 education as schools re-open in the age of COVID-19.

Online learning is key because it’s estimated that half of the state’s million students are presently doing it.

One figure drawing attention during the hearing this week was underachieving students falling potentially two grades behind since the start of the pandemic.

Issues with online learning often are blamed as students, teachers, and parents are learning about virtual education.

Districts like Metro Nashville Public Schools are already addressing the kind of issues faced by school parents like Tim Johnson. He’s been key for the online learning of his third-grade daughter.

Tim brought in a laptop to be fixed at one of six tech help centers MNPS has set up around the city.

“They had to reconfigure the network and we are just making sure we are able to log in before we head to the house ‘because she is missing class right now,” said Johnson.

“These centers are set up to help families and students who are having tech issues with their laptops, hotspots, or logging in,” added Monica Coverstone, who was helping out at the MNPS tech centers.

Another issue for online learning has been access to broadband in both urban and rural school districts.

The chair of the House education committee says it means there will be a lot on the plate of state lawmakers when they resume their 112th session next January.

News 2 digs deeper into how schools are moving forward safely for the new academic year. See how other districts around Middle Tennessee are handling everything from classroom concerns to the future of sports in our special series. Click here to see more.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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