Coronavirus impact: Some teachers struggling with technology to provide distance learning for their students

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It was supposed to be done last week, but late Monday night, SFUSD and the United Educators of San Francisco were negotiating the terms for distance learning that will be in place for at least the rest of the school year.

There have been a lot of stories about equity for students with distance learning, but many teachers are also struggling with the new technology requirements.

"It's hard, it's so much work!" Stephanie Li is a third grade teacher at Frank McCoppin Elementary School in San Francisco's Richmond District.

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She's been teaching remotely for several weeks, but on Monday she ramped up her lesson plans, as SFUSD officially launched teacher-led interactive distance learning.

"Today I had a morning meeting with about half my class. I pushed out a recorded English arts lesson, I helped students troubleshoot tech issues, I met with two small groups, and I also did a math lesson with about half the class."

But Li, whose current work set-up involves two laptops perched on top of a toy bin, with her toddler in tow, says she never expected to become an overnight IT expert when she signed up for teaching.

"My student has a technology issue and I can't see their screen to know what's going on, so I call them with my smartphone and then I ask them to use Whatsapp to make sure that I can see their screen."

"I feel pretty comfortable with technology and it's a steep learning curve," explained Li.

Li spent about nine hours working Monday, but says she has colleagues, who are not as tech savvy, who have never used Zoom or video chats before, and are now spinning their wheels trying to keep up with all the new teaching technology.

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"It's hard to not feel overwhelmed. My colleague she stayed up, she's had several all-nighters trying to figure things out."

"This district is doing everything possible to make sure they have what they need," said Gabriela López, vice president of the San Francisco Board of Education.

López is co-sponsoring a new resolution that sets up wellness and mental health checks for students and teachers who may be struggling with all the distance between them and the classroom.

"This is beyond the tech piece, this is ensuring that students, educators, our families have their human basic needs met, so that when we are entering this digital world, which we're all learning together, they have it in place."

The board will vote on the resolution at Tuesday's meeting.

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