As the winter semester draws to a close in colleges throughout Utah, this parent of a college student wants to recognize the Herculean effort required of educators to transform to an online curriculum mid-semester. Both college and K-12 educators deserve our appreciation for their efforts to respond to an unforeseen environment that placed burdensome demands on a profession already shouldering heavy loads.
With my daughter deep in her engineering major at Utah State this semester, I noticed just how complicated this transition has been. Many classes require personal engagement, lab work, and other direct exposure to the subject matter that is difficult to replicate in an online environment.
The challenge is no less complicated for teachers in K-12 schools. I remember how difficult it was to keep the attention of my own children when they were in kindergarten and early grades. How does a kindergarten teacher hold the attention of a class of 5-year-olds in an online setting? Though it can be done, I can imagine the difficulty of transitioning to such a setting with little warning.
An incident during the final examination for my daughter’s engineering class revealed to me just how responsive, accommodating and flexible our educators and administrators have had to be in the face of this unforeseen crisis.
When a misunderstanding about testing availability caused my daughter to miss a final exam for which she had extensively prepared, she called me in tears. The standard testing time and location had changed as a result of the lockdown, costing her the chance to pass one of her most challenging courses.
Though the professor and the university could reasonably have kept her from completing the class, they chose instead to accommodate the student. Utah State University President Noelle Cockett personally engaged on her student’s behalf, with the university going to great lengths to ensure she was given the opportunity to take the final. She passed the final and passed the class. A less responsive institution would have required her to repeat the class or fail out of her major.
When I consider the many opportunities for misunderstanding in a constantly changing environment, I can only guess at the complexity our educators and administrators are addressing on a daily basis. No one told them when they were hired that their job descriptions would so drastically change with so little notice.
Though there have undoubtedly been hiccups and mistakes along the way, I am grateful for the efforts of our schools and universities to adapt and adjust long-established curricula and procedures to accommodate the needs of Utah students.
May we recognize and thank those who have gone to great lengths to ensure our kids continue to learn, grow and progress during these unprecedented times.
Mia Love is a former member of Congress from Utah and is currently a political analyst for CNN.