|Remote Learning: Where No Plan Has Gone Before|
Dear Parents, Guardians & Staff,
As we begin our second full week of remote learning, I want to touch base and address a few concerns I have heard since we traversed into this vastly different way of instructing students. Like all other school districts, Eanes ISD is navigating new online territory.
It has not been without flaws; just this morning, our students experienced log-in issues after Zoom made security updates over the weekend. Our technology staff is working quickly to troubleshoot all remaining issues.
When we first realized there was a good chance we would close schools, our staff immediately began researching, evaluating and testing different online video-conferencing platforms. It was a lofty goal with a quick deadline, but they did a phenomenal job to rapidly find and introduce Zoom as a user-friendly, workable solution. There was a thought to go the safe route and launch learning by downloadable worksheets, but we overwhelmingly decided instruction needs a visual, personal component – to support the social-emotional aspect of dealing with so much change. Simply put: we want students to see and interact with their teachers.
So far, we have observed incredibly positive outcomes across all levels of instruction; however, with anything launched on a districtwide (global, for that matter) scale, there are shortcomings. Families have experienced Internet connectivity issues outside of our control and, unfortunately, a handful of students have misbehaved during online classes (which, by the way, also happened before we moved to virtual school). Our teachers are doing an amazing job working through these issues, finding solutions and, yes, correcting the few who push the boundaries.
We understand there may be specific concerns with Zoom, including questions about data privacy. While we researched and tested Zoom over spring break, we knew - as with everything else in this new environment - we would need to evaluate, reassess and adjust. At this time, Eanes ISD has implemented all available safety settings when using Zoom. Like most technology platforms, Zoom has had some issues, but we are confident in the measures taken to get us through the end of the school year. We have reminded our staff of the safeguards they should take to protect their virtual classrooms, and we have conducted professional development for additional hands-on help. Here are other precautions we have taken:
- Only authenticated users can join Eanes ISD Zoom meetings
- Students are placed into a Waiting Room until the teacher grants them access
- Teachers can temporarily remove an attendee from the meeting
- All Zoom meetings now have an Eanes ISD branded URL: https://eanesisd.zoom.us/
- Passwords are required for scheduled meetings
Please continue to use TSHelpDesk@eanesisd.net to report any technology issues your student may be experiencing.
Because implementing a new video-conferencing platform at this stage would be disruptive for teachers and students, we will continue to work through the protocols and implement the most stringent protections possible. In the remaining weeks of this semester, we will explore other platforms such as Cisco Webex, Google Meet, LifeSize and Microsoft Teams, among others, that could also provide a customized option to protect privacy using Eanes ISD accounts.
I want to applaud all the good instruction happening (virtually) in Eanes ISD right now. These are stressful times, as everyone in our school district is experiencing something new and uncharted. Please keep your spirits high and look for the good. Focus on your family…what IS working…what you can look forward to each day. And please, take time to thank your teachers, who are working above and beyond - from their own homes with their own families to manage - to ensure your child(ren) are receiving the best instruction available.