While online learning has proven to be a good alternative to in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic, some teachers are finding themselves overwhelmed with class sizes sometimes as large as 50-100 students.
Virtual schools have reported an average class size of 44 students to one teacher. Parents, teachers, and caregivers alike have expressed their dismay for class sizes so large, making it difficult for any one student to get the extra help they may require.
However, organizers of the classes say that the class sizes work because remote learning allows for each student to work at their own pace. Instruction is typically live, but the time it takes to do the busy work is up to each student.
Diana Sirko, superintendent of the Mesa County Valley School District in western Colorado, said, "It was like starting a completely new school." She noted that they are still working to nail down the correct student-to-teacher ratio.
Some parents, still, are worried that the large class sizes are not allowing for the children to make the connections with their teachers that they would if they were being instructed in person.
Valerie Lim is one such mom, saying, "The teachers are overwhelmed. There's literally no way that you can form the types of connections that you would want to make as a teacher with your students."
Meanwhile, schools like one district in Great Falls, Montana, are struggling to hold classes where all students in the area are welcome, with about 40-60 students on a wait list to be permitted into middle and high school virtual classrooms.
Tega Toney, president of the American Federation for Teachers in Fayette County, argues that virtual classes should mean fewer students per class, not more. "It's not really fair and equitable," he said. "I would contend that students taking classes virtually would need even more one-on-one attention."