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Forsyth school system seeks feedback about online learning

FORSYTH COUNTY — Winter weather woes that froze classes in the Forsyth County school system at the end of February have subsided, and the deadline for students to turn in the homework assigned online through a new virtual learning portal has passed.

In the outset and aftermath of students’ first few not-snowy-days, complaints and praise streamed from keyboards about the district’s platform called itslearning, an asynchronous (not at the same time) classroom based entirely online. Still, system officials said they want to officially talk it out.

Students and parents have until March 23 to complete a survey (it’s online at to supplement the evaluation of online learning days (they had three).

School was canceled Tuesday-Thursday during the last two weeks of February, though students were also off Feb. 16, a Monday, for the President’s Day holiday.

Feb. 17 and 18 will be made up on March 16 and April 3, the district’s two built-in inclement weather days.

Feb. 19, 24 and 25 were the county’s first-ever online learning days, where they were asked to sign onto itslearning, a third-party virtual classroom, to receive lessons and assignments.

They had five days from their return to class to complete the homework for attendance.

Nearly 1,000 staff and 4,300 students and parents had submitted responses as of Thursday, according to Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the school system. That is the highest response rate to any survey the district has posted in the last 10 years.

Feedback on social media throughout the process has shown a range of experiences, from students frustrated with what they call busy work to kids in high school enjoying the online communication. Parents with younger children expressed obstacles with signing on to the site.

The first of three storms that hit Forsyth may not have helped accessibility matters, with lingering ice weighing down trees and power lines, causing outages across the district.

Superintendent Jeff Bearden received feedback from his student and teacher advisory board shortly after classes resumed, Caracciolo said.

She went on to add that all responses and feedback will be reviewed by a committee who will share summaries and recommendations in May for moving forward.

“We knew it was not going to be 100 percent perfect,” Caracciolo said. “It was our first attempt, and it was always our intention to try it, then review it and decide how to improve it. Next year, we still have plans for continuing to review it. It’s a constant process.”

She said online learning personnel are taking student growth into consideration, accounting for around 1,500 new students.