First week of online learning in Utah comes with challenges

By Ashley Kewish, KSL TV | Posted - Mar. 21, 2020 at 9:03 p.m.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Parents and students across Utah reported some bumps and technical glitches this week after school districts statewide made the transition to online learning.

Following the two-week soft closure order issued by Governor Gary Herbert, all districts made the move to online learning to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

There are 86,000 students in the Alpine School District, and every family has a unique situation trying to keep their children educated.

At the LaTessa home in Saratoga Springs, the living room is now the classroom.

“It just doesn’t quite feel like a healthy routine yet,” said mother Kim LaTessa. “It kind of feels like we’re on school break but we’re not.”

LaTessa is now a part-time school teacher for her two children.

“I’m not very much help with my son’s Spanish classes,” she said. “Yeah, I don’t speak any Spanish.”

Foreign language lessons aside, districts statewide have been seeing technical glitches and slow connections adding to the headache of online learning.

In the Alpine School District, almost 12,000 Chromebook laptops were sent home to students.

“With so many people getting online, it’s obviously going to burden the system,” said David Stephenson with the Alpine School District.

Stephenson said a content filtering issue beginning Wednesday seized up schoolwork or kicked some students out of virtual classrooms altogether. He said adjustments have been made things have improved.

“Considering all we’re dealing with and all we’ve been through, we’re happy with where we are at this point,” he said.

With so many people getting online, it’s obviously going to burden the system.

–David Stephenson, Alpine School District.

Teachers have been taking it in stride and taking every opportunity they can to connect with students.

“It’s been so heartwarming to see how hard the teachers are working and to see all the positive videos and messages out there,” Stephenson said.

However, things are still a little stressful for parents attempting to lead the schoolwork from home.

“I can tell my son is getting really frustrated with me but we are just kind of taking it one day at a time,” LaTessa said.


Homework with her children isn’t her only assignment.

“The school stuff is easier than my real job at the moment,” she said.

In addition to trying to figure out her son’s Spanish homework, she’s also a full-time medical professional.

“At this point, it’s kind of all hands on deck,” she said. “I’m actually on the front-line testing people for COVID-19,” she said.

LaTessa is administering some of the toughest tests of all for a growing number of people in our state.

“If you told me a year ago that this is what I’d be doing I never would have believed you,” she said.

KSL reached out to parents who have homeschooled their children for years. A large number reported that keeping a strict schedule is key and said developing more patience happens over time and it does get easier.

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