‘This has changed public education forever, but for the good’: Jefferson Co. Superintendent on distance learning

Jefferson Co Schools Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dr. Walter Gonsoulin, Jefferson County Schools Superintendent, participated in a live Town Hall Q&A with WBRC News anchor Jonathan Hardison Sunday.

The subject was distance learning and how it’s going for students and families more than three weeks into the process.

Gonsoulin said as a school system, Jefferson County’s first mission was to make sure students were fed, and then make sure people were okay emotionally and physically and when those needs were met they made sure the education and distance learning part was working and they continue to make adjustments where they need to.

One of the most asked questions Sunday was, “When will schools reopen?” Dr. Gonsoulin said he hopes by the fall schools can reopen, even if it’s with restrictions, but they are making plans for how that could look. They have several scenarios they can put in place. School leaders are also planning on having summer school, even if it’s virtually.

Celebrating seniors and their accomplishments is a priority for Dr. Gonsoulin, high school principals and their families. Gonsoulin said he is meeting with high school leaders to see what they can do including having two events, one virtually and one in person. Dr. Gonsoulin says they will make plans on how to honor each senior.

Dr. Gonsoulin said he’s taking time this week to talk with seniors from each school and listen to their suggestions and ideas about graduation and their needs.

On the opposite spectrum, what about kindergarten registration? There is an online registration process. The school system will also reach out to communities and let parents know about when to fill out the registration.

Could distance learning ever become part of the regular curriculum? Dr. Gonsoulin said this pandemic has changed public education forever, but for the good, in that teachers and staff can use some virtual learning to help students who can benefit from it. Gonsoulin said some students might learn some subjects better virtually.

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