Lexie Berry, a junior at Daegu Middle High School in South Korea, says she prefers the immediacy of a classroom to virtual study when searching for answers to questions. (Lise Lyon)
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – Students in some Defense Department schools in South Korea face at least another week of online education amid concerns over the spread of COVID- 19 temporarily closed eight schools there.
The Department of Defense education activity last week closed those schools for children of parents of U.S. military personnel, but ordered teachers to report to work on Wednesday to email homework assignments. Students must complete and submit homework online daily.
“It’s an experience,” Michelle Pell, professor of language arts and literature at Daegu Middle-High School, told Stars and Stripes on Friday, via Facebook Messenger.
“We are all working on it together. The kids do a really good job following directions and communicating, ”she said. “We are working to perfect the process. The military command at our post is making very good decisions in this situation. “
DODEA officials in Korea and military commanders plan to meet on Friday to reassess school closings and other measures imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We hope to be able to resume normal school operations as soon as possible,” DODEA communications chief Frank O’Gara said in an email on Wednesday. “But we made plans in case the students were forced to stay home longer. Our education and program experts are exploring a number of options in the event of a longer term shutdown. “
Meanwhile, distance learning shows its wrinkles. Online interviews with a handful of high school students and teachers revealed the pros and cons of online learning.
One advantage, said Jake Thomas, a junior at Humphreys High School, is being able to work at your own pace “as long as I get homework on time.”
The main downside isn’t always having a teacher on hand to give an instant answer to a question, said Thomas and other students.
For some, the classroom setting itself is conducive to learning.
“I would rather be in the classroom because I’m a more hands-on, in-person learner than an online learner,” said Lily Austinson, senior at Humphreys High School.
Austinson’s mother, Molly Austinson, teaches in parts of the world and is also the high school yearbook godmother. Her students use Google Hangouts extensively to communicate on the directory outside of the classroom.
“It creates a unique challenge,” Molly Austinson said of working remotely on the directory, “but also exciting opportunities for creativity.”
For some parents, having their children home after school is a challenge.
“It adds a bit of stress at home as it makes us enforcement officers making sure they do what they normally would during the school day,” the soldier’s wife said on Friday. , Dana DeLuca. “But for the most part, I think it’s a blessing.”
DeLuca teams up with her husband, Army Chaplain (Capt.) Marc DeLuca, of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, to ensure that their two high school students and two elementary students attending schools from Osan Air Base remain on their task.
Dana DeLuca said the concept is a good idea if children have to leave school for an extended period of time, but wonders if it is a sustainable model.
She said her 17-year-old daughter is capable of a self-taught online environment, but her 15-year-old daughter needs face-to-face interaction.
Molly Austinson said Camp Humphreys and the Korea District leadership of DODEA have been “fantastic” in communicating with schools and the community.
“Students are at the heart of everything we do,” said O’Gara. “Maintaining a safe place for them to go to school and maintaining the continuity of education is part of the support we provide to military families. “