Friday, May 20, 2022

Voices of virtual learning: York County parents react to school board’s decision of remote learning

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

As the beginning of the school year creeps nearer, many families remain anxious about how virtual learning is going to work for their children.

Indeed the York County School Board decided — unanimously — that the first nine weeks of the school year will be virtual, but not everyone is happy with that move.

Take for instance Tracee Rice, whose daughter is a rising sophomore at Tabb High School.

“I am really disappointed, because I feel like they should have considered the hybrid option,” she said.

Rice said she is nervous about the quality of education her daughter will receive if it is virtual because her daughter is only a few years away from attending college.

The school division sent a survey out to employees and family back in June. At the time the survey was administered, 60 percent of families and 57 percent of employees responded they were either somewhat or very comfortable with school reopening in the fall.

“They asked us for our option, but they didn’t factor it in at all,” Rice said, adding if schools were to reopen after the nine-week period was over, she would have no issue sending her daughter back to school.

“I’d send her back tomorrow, five days a week if they’d let us,” she said.

She saw that New York City planned to partially reopen schools. On Monday, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced 74 percent of students will partake in the city’s blended learning plan.

“What are we doing, not sending our children back to school?” Rice asked.

Of course not everyone is eager to reopen schools.

Janine Denny’s son is a rising sophomore at Grafton High School. She said she’s content with the school board’s decision.

“I feel like they made the right decision,” Denny said.

Denny’s a stay-at-home parent and a member of the PTA. She said her son does well in transitions and is very laid back.

“But I do understand parents with smaller kids. It’s going to be way more difficult for them,” she said. “I feel for them the most because they’re the ones that are going to have to make decisions.”

“I think a lot of parents who are upset don’t understand everything that is going on,” Denny pointed out. I don’t think they understand the logistics of what the schools are dealing with.”

Denny also agrees children with special needs and learning disabilities should be the ones to go back to school first.

Anu Thomas’s daughter is a seventh grader at Grafton Middle School who participates in many extracurricular activities. She said she and her husband have the opportunity to work from home.

“I, 100 percent, welcome the school board’s decision of going virtual,” she said.

The school board originally was considering several models of learning to open up the school year. The first option, the Flexibility Framework, which contains four models within itself, would allow students to go back to the school under the possibility of switching between restricted in-person learning and virtual.

Then there was the Virtual Academy option, used in case the board decided to go full remote.

“With these three options, I would say those are the best options the parents and students can get in this situation,” Thomas said, adding she does not recommend in-person learning “because there is no vaccine and cases are rising every day.”

Myia Sower has two daughters, one who is a fifth grader at Magruder Elementary and the other a sophomore attending the York County School of the Arts at Bruton High School.

Sower said the school board made a smart decision. She’s a tele-therapist who specializes in speech therapy and works from home.

“I am however upset that the kids who are doing the virtual school, they won’t have a regular teacher,” Sower said. “Especially my youngest. She had a lot of friends in her classes. She won’t necessarily be taught by a teacher from Magruder, and she won’t necessarily have friends that she recognizes.”

Melissa Murdock has three children, each attending Yorktown elementary, middle, and high school. She has a chronic illness, works a side job, and her husband is in the military. She said she thought the school board did a good job giving families different options.

“I don’t have it as hard not having to worry about childcare because I’m here,” she said. “Me having my illness is not the same as my neighbor across the street who doesn’t have to worry about things like that.”

“You’re never going to make everyone happy, ever” Murdock said.

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