TECCA troubles: On school’s eve, online login details late

Sep 14, 2020

As students prepare for online learning to start on Tuesday, some middle school parents have yet to receive vital information on how their kids’ remote classrooms will operate. 

Earlier this month, the district chose online platforms for students who opted for remote learning — with the TECCA Connections Academy the virtual choice for middle schoolers. 

At a school committee meeting on Sept. 14, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford said TECCA “should be” emailing parents with login information and details on how to navigate the program later that night — with students set to begin their lessons the next morning.

“I understand parents' frustration,” she said. “We are as frustrated as they are.” 

Committee Chair Chris Oliver agreed, saying that he was “really disappointed” with TECCA and their lack of communication.

“It’s so unfortunate,” he said. “I wish that we would have known a little bit more about the program.”  

Committee member Kathleen Amaral noted many parents who opted for full-remote learning “don’t know where to log in.” 

Dartmouth Middle School parent Carole Hart said that she didn’t receive login information for her 11-year-old daughter until Tuesday evening, stating it was a “very anxious morning” and that her daughter was “upset because she wasn’t able to start school like other children.”

Hart said she gave her daughter lessons to complete before finally receiving three emails from TECCA after 5 p.m. Tuesday containing sign in details and a welcome letter explaining the process.

“To be honest it’s a little upsetting, but I’m just glad my daughter is finally set for her remote online schooling,” she said, adding that both she and her daughter are “feeling relieved” to finally have what they need. “Now fingers crossed that it works,” she said.

Gifford said that, according to TECCA, parents should not worry about the lateness because “children won’t be behind.” 

“I really wish we could do an in-house academy like we’re doing at the elementary level,” Oliver said.

At the elementary level, five teachers were hired for each grade K-4 to run virtual classes from a large music room at Quinn School, with the lessons held through Google Meet. 

A suitable teacher was not found for fifth grade, Gifford noted. Instead, she said, two fifth grade teachers will split a few hours during the day to provide education to those students. 

“We don’t have an endless ability to hire staff,” she stated. “So we have to reallocate staff as best as we can to make sure our students’ needs are met.”

At the same meeting, School Business Administrator Jim Kiely updated the committee on school preparedness for when hybrid learning begins. According to Kiely, the district is in “good shape.”

He noted that more than 27,000 pieces of PPE have been distributed around the district, adding that more will come in. 

Meanwhile, the district is currently working on how to approach its grab and go meal program this fall. 

Once hybrid learning begins, he said those students will bring a meal home for their off day. For those learning remotely, the pickup schedule is still being planned out. 

“It’s been incredibly busy getting prepared to operate in a brand new way,” Kiely said. “I can’t wait to see kids in buildings.” 

This article has been updated to include Carole Hart’s experience with TECCA login issues.