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Hybrid learning will challenge community, says lawmaker

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THE Public School System’s implementation of the hybrid learning model will be a challenge to everyone in the community, according to the chairman of the House Committee on Education.

In an interview on Monday, Rep. Roman C. Benavente said combining face-to-face classes and remote learning will be a burden not only for the PSS administration and the Board of Education but also for students and their parents.

Benavente, who is a former BOE chairman, said it will be difficult for many parents, especially the working ones, to perform the tasks that teachers usually do under normal circumstances when dealing with students from pre-school to Grade 2.

A lot of parents, he said, have to acquaint themselves with  Blackboard Learn, the platform used by PSS for its online classes. Moreover, he said, parents have to assist their children almost in the same manner that teachers do in classrooms.

“Not all parents can do that,” he added.

For his part, Education Commissioner Alfred B. Ada said PSS is providing students with high-speed internet connection because “we want to make sure that our students and families are given support to make teaching and learning happen with remote learning.”

As for  face-to-face learning, Benavente said the challenge is funding.

As PSS begins its new school-year it must comply with public health protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Benavente said, adding that  “every classroom will cost PSS more.”

The social distancing rule alone will require PSS to retrofit student desks with plexiglass and implement other safety measures to make sure  students and teachers are protected from the coronavirus, Benavente said.

To implement all the required precautionary measures, he said the $24.1 million appropriated for PSS in fiscal year 2021 will not be enough.

As for private schools on island, they have been conducting face-to-face classes while complying with the required social distancing, sanitation and other precautionary measures.

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