Distance learning needs to stay in place
As many are already aware, on Nov. 17 the Randolph County Board of Education made the decision to end distance learning. According to the article printed in The Inter-Mountain on Nov. 19, 1,006 students are enrolled in distance learning and 326 of these students are failing at least one class.
It is my understanding that this is the main reason for ending distance learning. The letter that we received from the Board of Education stated, “The success for students in distance learning is low. While there are families who have embraced this option, the large majority of students are failing at least one class.”
While 326 students failing at least one class is a reason for concern, what about the 680 students who are not failing any of their classes? Do we have any statistics on the amount of in person or blended students who are failing? It appears that, because less than half of the distance learning students are failing, the students who are passing will be forced to return to the classroom or sign up for Virtual Learning. I do not consider 326 out of 1,006 students to be “the large majority.”
Virtual Learning and Distance Learning are very different. For those who are unfamiliar and think they are basically the same thing, Virtual Learning is designed for children in upper grade levels. It is described as “rigorous.” It is my understanding that Virtual Learning is geared toward children who have the ability to work independently and, in some cases, for students who are considered gifted.
So where does that leave the elementary school children? Many of the children, mine included, are doing very well with distance learning. The letter we received from the board also states, “There is a great concern that students are suffering socially, emotionally and academically.” This is true whether the students are in school or not. Everyone is suffering.
It is impossible for children to have the social interaction they need at this time. If my child goes to school, she will be physically distanced from her classmates. She will not be permitted to touch another child or share materials with them. She will likely be mandated to wear a mask. Is this the social interaction they are referring to?
Of course they are suffering emotionally. Will they suffer less if they must sit in a classroom and worry about whether or not they will bring COVID-19 home to their parents and grandparents? Academically, I agree. all of the children are suffering academically. The world and the education system is in chaos, and this cannot be helped. I agree that the best place for my child is in the classroom, but I do not think it is the safest place for her to be right now.
With COVID-19 cases increasing daily in our state, I do not understand why sending all of the children back into the classroom is a responsible decision. If parents are comfortable sending their children to school, by all means, let them attend. Let them attend four days per week if they want. But I feel that if parents are not comfortable with this option, they should have the right to choose distance learning. As far as participating, distance learning families understood the distance learning program would be available for the entire 2020-2021 school year, and it is now being ended without any warning.
Many of the students in Randolph County are being raised by their grandparents. How will ending distance learning affect these families? What about the parents who must depend on the grandparents as a source of childcare? Are we willing to put these people at risk?
In conclusion, I would like to say that if students are thriving with distance learning, they should be permitted to continue with this model for the remainder of the 2021 school year. It would be detrimental to their education to force these children to learn a new platform in the middle of the year. With COVID-19 on the rise, the need for this program to continue is even more necessary now than it was when first implemented in the fall. It is imperative to the student’s successful completion of this school year.