NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When the coronavirus forced schools to take learning out of the classroom and into students’ homes, it was a challenging change.

It’s a virtual experience that many educators believe can’t work long-term, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reports.

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“The claim that the wave of the future, reimagining is going to be online is a disaster,” said Dr. Alan Singer, of Hofstra University.

But it has been working at Florida Virtual School, offering full-time online learning for K-12 students for more than 22 years.

Lesley Bonini teaches fifth grade and says the flexibility of the curriculum is what lends to its success.

Her students can attend live classes or access recorded lessons 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while she makes sure students keep pace.

“Each child is really able to meet their own unique learning needs in order to support their educational demands that meets their family schedule,” Bonini said.


Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), says schools need to invest in training for teachers to teach effectively online.

He says they need to master fundamentals like how to choose the right technology tools, how to assess students’ learning and how to keep students engaged, meeting in smaller groups so students can learn to work together.

“It is really important that we aren’t just taking worksheets and textbooks and scanning them and uploading them online,” Culatta said. “Teachers are incredibly creative, they are the most innovative people I’ve ever worked with, but they need some support and guidance.”

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Along with her live online class, Bonini has YouTube tutorials, an online homeroom to lay out assignments, testing and grades, and on-demand one-on-one virtual meetings with her students to assess learning.

After working for 13 years in a traditional setting and now five years online, she says she’s still able to build personal relationships with her students.

“I have found that my connections are deeper with my families in a virtual world,” Bonini said.

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Creativity has helped make remote learning work for families at St. Francis de Sales School in Belle Harbor, Queens.

Principal Christopher Scharbach says he’s fostering connections by making online school fun — hosting theme days and virtual field trips.

“We went to Disney World, we went to Alaska, Hawaii,” he said. “Although we’ve been successful in implementing it over these last 10 weeks, we know it does not replace face-to-face interaction or face-to-face instruction.”

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It’s likely children won’t return to school full time in the fall.

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The pandemic has become a catalyst for innovation in education, and the only thing that is clear is that school as most of us have always known it will never be the same.