Throughout much of 2020 and into the early days of 2021, teachers have relied on remote learning to connect with their students, and they’re consistently looking for new resources for remote learning to make this process easier within a society still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At VirtualPBX, our role in this process has been to assist educational facilities by providing them with the tools necessary to keep their school systems running. This can result in educational advisory groups like Collaborative Learning Solutions (CLS) using our phone system to keep their staff connected while they work remotely and while that staff works remotely and on-site with schools and educational departments.
We’re happy to continue to provide groups like CLS with effective communications tools that keep their operations running smoothly through changes in the workplace. As the state of education further takes shape across the U.S. and globally, we’re refining our services to match the needs of all businesses in this group.
Remote Learning, or Reentering the Classroom?
School closures, and initialization of remote learning, began in earnest in the U.S. in March and April 2020 when COVID-19 exposure started to spread worldwide. Since that time, many schools have remained fully closed or have moved to partial online learning for students.
The beginning of the spring semester in 2021 shows much of that same picture – states and counties divided on how to proceed but hopeful that traditional classroom learning will return before the end of the school year.
- KDVR in Colorado reports that some districts in the state have already brought students back to the classroom. Many districts support hybrid models that either stagger in-person student attendance (for instance, Monday/Wednesday for half of students and Tuesday/Thursday for the remaining half) or bring students back to classrooms in phases (such as elementary students returning one week and high school the following week). Some districts combine staggering and phases, and most appear to plan for a combination of virtual and on-site instruction for the foreseeable future.
- Proposals in California, reports Calmatters, suggest that some students may return to schools in late January and early February. It prioritizes the youngest and most vulnerable children as those who would return first; then other populations are expected to follow in subsequent weeks.
- Fox19 explains that Ohio governor Mike DeWine hopes all children in the state can return to full in-person learning by March 1. Meanwhile, KYMA reports that school districts in Arizona are proceeding with distance learning for the first couple weeks of January and will reassess that strategy in county school board meetings throughout the month.
Mixed Approaches to Education, and VirtualPBX’s Response
What’s clear from the approaches of all school districts is that they value the health and safety of students and teachers above all else. Teachers are also clear about their need for resources for remote learning as they show hesitation to begin in-person learning, in full, while COVID-19 cases have hit their highest daily totals since the pandemic began.
VirtualPBX’s work with CLS shows a similar pattern at the level of education administration. CLS works with school boards throughout California and the U.S. to coach teachers and develop curricula, and it has been that organization’s plan to listen to the needs of individual school boards as they work with those educators. This includes concerns about COVID-19.
Nearly all the staff members at CLS work from a different location because they visit a range of school districts. VirtualPBX allows callers to reach those individual staff members as they work from any location, and it helps CLS remain flexible as the needs of its own staff and its clients change. Employees have the option to use their extensions to accept inbound calls, and they can complete outbound calls just as easily to complete appointments and match the schedules of school boards in their areas.
New VirtualPBX Features for Remote Work
We accomplished a lot in 2020. It was a big year for new features and product releases, including:
- Video Conferencing
- Business SMS
- Multiple Auto Attendants
- Zapier Integration
Both Video Conferencing and Business SMS, in particular, were given priority not just because of wide-ranging appeal, but because they make great additions to the communications capabilities of any company that has remote workers.
Our Video Conferencing feature works as a direct replacement for established competition like Google Meet and Zoom, and our Business SMS feature gives employees the opportunity to keep in touch with brief messages, which are often all that’s needed to report a status or get a co-worker’s attention.
Not all companies will have a need for all our new features, but those that do, especially those that are working remotely, will find a lot of utility in these capabilities.
Flexible Work in a Changing World
It makes sense that a world experiencing considerable, rapid change requires a communications system capable of supporting those changes. We do our best to assist educators by providing them and their supporting businesses with resources for remote learning and remote engagement.
Not all school district have the same plans in place for resuming traditional learning. Virtual classrooms will continue in most places at least into spring. This means that companies like CLS will have a lot on their plate for handling a variety of shifting education concerns and handling tasks as simple as in-person meetings with the sensitivity that those situations require.
Business phone plans help keep organizations connected so they can address these issues. We hope our assistance helps educators stay on track and school systems remain safe to keep children learning both inside and outside the classroom.