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Catherine Truitt, Republican candidate for state superintendent, on COVID-19 and online education

The John Locke Foundation hosted a virtual discussion as part of their Shaftesbury in Place series on COVID-19 and online education.

The conversation included Catherine Truitt, the Republican candidate for state Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Lauren Acome, head of the North Carolina Virtual Academy.

Truitt said that different teachers around the state have different levels of preparation and comfort when it comes to online education. She gave the following advice to education leaders.

“The best advice that I would give principals and superintendents is to find your teachers who are already comfortable and leverage their expertise.”

On teachers dealing with the new reality of remote learning, Truitt said:

“Everyone is doing the best they can with the system that’s in place … [teachers] are doing their best operating in a system that by and large is not equipped to handle an overnight switch to remote learning. So I think that when the dust settles we’re going to have to have some hard conversations about what this system looks like.”

On modernization in K-12, particularly when it comes to online learning, Truitt had this to say:

“K-12 needs to modernize, not just because we could have another event that leaves people at home. But it needs to modernize because that’s the right thing to do. It needs to modernize because we need to go where the rest of the world already is.”

On how online learning can coexist in a world of brick-and-mortar schools, Truitt said there needs to be a fundamental shift in how we think about education.

“With traditional K-12 education … it is not going to be about either/or anymore. It’s going to have to be about blended. And blended learning that leverages technology in order to produce a personalized learning experience for the student is key,” she said, adding: “A lot of folks in the education community totally agree with that. It’s just a matter of making it happen.”

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.