As they tackle online teaching, public schools encounter stark ‘digital divide’

Public school teachers describe the ups and downs of pandemic online learning

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite uncertainty about the pandemic and potential pay cuts, many Hawaii public school teachers are trying to build their online classrooms.

Ilima Intermediate teacher Sarah Milianta-Laffin says she’s pushing through this new era of online teaching and learning.

“The beautiful thing about being a public school teacher is that we are kind of used to thinking on your feet,” she said.

Many public schools are loaning Chromebooks to students, but access to technology is still a problem. Families may not have WiFi or multiple children have to share a single device.

"What this crisis has done has highlighted the digital divide between students," said Milianta-Laffin.

Waianae Intermediate teacher Alika Masei says he's keeping his students engaged by doing a group project on the myths and realities of the pandemic.

"A number of students have chimed in saying I'm so bored cooped up. It's kind of tiring being around the same people so this gives them a platform to really engage with their classmates as well as their teachers," he said.

Despite the uncertainty, Masei is preparing to spend the rest of the school year online and traditional grades have been tossed out.

“I really just count this as a pass or fail opportunity so as long as they show that they’re making a good-faith effort to do the work then we’re not going to hold it against them,” said Masei.

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