Wyoming Students Adapt to Online Learning

The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) recently approved the Adapted Learning Plans submitted by all 48 school districts. 

Tashi Mathuin, Producer

Now, Wyoming school districts will focus on continuing the course of students’ education amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Each district was required to submit an Adapted Learning Survey Plan by 5:00 p.m. on March 31.  The plan’s purpose is to determine the strategies each district is implementing moving forward to educate students while schools remain closed.

“I am impressed by the agility of Wyoming school districts to create learning plans designed to meet the needs of all students in this COVID-19 environment,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow. “In the span of three weeks, the WDE and school districts worked together to build and approve these plans that will result in continued teaching and learning for more than 90,000 students and 20,000 staff in every school district across our state.”

Tashi Mathuin
Anna Foote waits in line to get supplies for online classes

The WDE website outlines the expectations of the proposed Adapted Learning Plan. Each district must lay out the strategies for the delivery of the content, ensuring participation and tracking students’ progress. Districts can use a “combination of virtual lessons, hard copy packets of assignments, phone calls, emails, and limited in-person instruction,” According to the  WDE website. “Other aspects of plans include details for attendance, student progress, staff utilization, parent and community engagement, compliance with special education law, considerations for graduating seniors, and student privacy.”

Most districts have plans in place, and students around the state are embarking on their respective journies through online learning. 

Cody High School junior Soffy Anderson felt the transition to be bumpy at the beginning.  

“The transition from in-person to virtual has been a little rough. It took some of the teachers a while to figure out how to connect with us and assign us to work,” said Anderson.

Sheridan High School junior Audrey Turner echoed Anderson’s concerns. 

“The transition was very stressful because nobody told us what we were all supposed to do with online stuff,” said Turner.  “I feel like it could have been more clearly stated what we were all supposed to do, but it is a new experience for both teachers and students.”

Some students in the state felt the switch to online not to be difficult. Attributing the ease of the transition to their previous experience with online college classes. 

Powell High School senior Grant Dillivan has previously enrolled in online college courses through Northwest College, which he believes aided him in adjusting to the new structure. 

“The transition has been rather easy for me. I’ve taken some online classes at the college in my town, NWC, and so I understand how online classes work for the most part. The Zoom video chat piece is the only new thing, but not many of my teachers are implementing that,” said Dillivan.

“Obviously learning in the classroom is the best method of learning, but for the circumstances, we are lucky to be able to continue schools.””

— Audrey Turner

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Some teachers currently do not have access to their classrooms. At Cody High School the teachers had a window of time enter the building to gather resources and materials for their teaching.  They are not allowed in the building until April 30. 

“Our system isn’t inherently meant to go online, and the short-notice time frame didn’t help either. I think all the staff at my school [PHS] have done a good job with the tools they have available to them and the time frame they were given,” said Dillivan.

Online learning will not come easy for most. Some students are already experiencing some challenges, self-discipline among one of the struggles. 

“For one, it’s hard to stay focused on a screen that holds so many different distractions,” said Lyman High School junior, Zoie Olguin.

Olguin fears students may become disenamoured with online education. 

“Going forward, I don’t know how it will all end out. I feel like we will over time get less interested, want less involved in learning due to only having school for 4 hours a day,” said Olguin.

“At the moment, the biggest challenge I’ve had has been motivating myself to actually do the work. It’s hard to have such a long break and then try and get back into the swing of things,” said Dillivan. “It’s made even more difficult with it being at home, a place one feels comfortable and doesn’t normally want to do work.”

However, on the other side of the fence, some students are thriving within the online learning environment. The flexibility allows students to work at their pace and provides them the freedom to focus on their interests.

“It’s a lot better than regular school. It’s easier for me to work at my own pace and I’m not as stressed about deadlines or anything,” said Jackson Hole High School junior, Abbi Daugherty.

Regardless of how it may be going now, many students, hold optimism for the future. “I think as we get into the rhythm of online school and figure out any technical issues, I’m sure this change will only get easier,” said Dillavan.

Turner pointed out that “Obviously learning in the classroom is the best method of learning, but for the circumstances, we are lucky to be able to continue schools [sic].” 

Although times are uncertain, Wyoming students and teachers are up to the challenge considering the current conditions.