Uneven student work loads and high praise for teachers, students and parents engaging in hybrid and all-remote learning were discussed Wednesday during a virtual community conversation for the Moline-Coal Valley School District.
School board president Sangeetha Rayapati said Wednesday’s community conversation marked about the one-year anniversary of when the district first held such a session to hear input from parents and other stakeholders. A year ago that session happened in person, but COVID-19 has pushed those conversations into a virtual format. Wednesday’s session had more than 80 participants and was led by Rayapati, board member Andrew Waeyaert and Superintendent Rachel Savage.
Savage told parents she will be talking to principals and other staff this week about what tweaks could be made now that teachers and students have a few weeks of instruction under the district’s hybrid and remote learning options.
Moline-Coal Valley students began the school year Aug. 24. Savage said about 70% of students were attending under the hybrid schedule. Thirty percent of students are attending fully remotely. Parents will again have a choice at the start of second quarter to choose hybrid or remote learning.
Savage reported during Wednesday’s session that the district has one individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and the district’s certified contact tracer has completed the contact tracing process.
She said stakeholders could now track positive cases in the district through a new link on the district’s “Return to Learn” section of its website, molineschools.org. The web page, which is updated every Friday, denotes the number of cumulative positive cases for staff and students and the number of positive cases reported in the last 14 days.
During Wednesday’s virtual session, parents shared stories of heavy workloads for elementary students and some high school students having very little work to complete at home because of those students being limited in the number of courses they can take. Some parents also shared their struggles of trying to lead remote learning for multiple children at home.
Several parents asked when the district might consider allowing more in-person instruction. Rayapati said the district monitored the public health department numbers and the numbers were better this summer before the start of school. She said the bottom line was the district needed to see the daily positivity rates go down.
“I know that’s a major factor in having the kids and staff in contact more often,” she said. “My understanding is that we have to see all health indicators from the state really in our favor in order to move forward with more in-person instruction.”
Savage said she knew administrators, teachers and parents all wanted to add to the amount of allowable in-person instruction time as soon as possible.
“I literally lose sleep over this,” Savage said. “I want to add to it as soon as possible.”
Parent Michael Irwin said his student was struggling with technology issues, particularly that apps were slow or hard to access. Director for Technology Craig Reid said the district utilized Google for many of its platforms and high numbers of remote learners — not just from Moline — likely were bogging down the system. Parents were urged to contact the district or building principals for technology assistance.
Parent Tara Martin said she and her children were frustrated in trying to complete work under the full remote model, often feeling as if they were falling behind and that frustration was straining relationships and causing stress. She said it was a struggle with multiple children in the home and trying to complete the heavy academic workloads.
Savage said she thought teachers were feeling the pressure to teach all of the academic standards because districts recently learned waivers would not be issued for spring state assessments.
“Now teachers feel pressure to get through all the content and to do it at the level they normally would when all the kiddos were in the classroom,” Savage said. “It’s just too much. So, I hear you and will be working with them to pull back.”
Savage also urged Martin to reach out to her children’s building principals with her feedback.
Several parents shared high praise for teachers for their responsiveness and their efforts to make hybrid and remote learning as successful as possible. Savage said she commended staff and she also wanted to highlight the effort of all of the parents.
“I want to give a shout out to all the parents, they are the real MVPs,” she said.
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