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2 parents critical of online learning

SALINEVILLE — While the Southern Local school year is underway, not every parent is happy with the online education students are receiving.

Two mothers appeared at Tuesday’s board meeting to express their concerns about the lessons they are being expected to help their children complete and hopes everyone can work together to keep the children choosing at home learning from falling behind their peers.

Julie Utt said there are parents who do not have the skills others have, who do not know Google Classroom or other software being used. Utt said some of the lessons the teachers are uploading are not user friendly and she feels like the children are already falling behind after only a few days.

Michelle Cole questioned if all the content is age appropriate, noting parents have to spend time reading the instructions before students can start, which would be hard for those parents who are working. Additionally, one science lesson for her first grader took about 90 minutes to complete only half of it and included a nature walk.

Utt said she has concerns about not having the information to know how long a student should take to master the subjects, should a lesson take a day, a week or two weeks before a student can do it.

Utt said she has spoken with Superintendent Tom Cunningham several times, as well as Assistant Principal Emily Brinker and credited them both with always returning her calls and working with her. Utt said she also spoke with Brett Hughes, a junior high language arts teacher, who she credited with really knowing his stuff. The mothers said they would like to be part of the solution.

The mothers also said she believed the teachers are trying, but may not know what’s in the lessons being uploaded and assigned. For instance, one lesson called for students to use their magnetic letters, another required a globe and yet another needed 100 Dixie cups, things that may not be available in every household. Utt said she used up a print cartridge already printing out lessons for her two children.

The mother’s assured the school board from talking with other parents on social media, they know they are not the only parents having problems and those are the parents who are concerned about their children’s educations.

“We’re going to fail these kids,” Utt said. “I just may send them back to school against my better judgment.”

Board member John Sawyer said as someone who has been involved in education for 52 years he appreciates that everyone understands they need to work together during this year especially. He pointed out this year is tough for everyone and mostly for the students.

Board President Kip Dowling said there is going to be tutoring available for the online students and questioned how much training teachers had regarding virtual lessons. He was told teachers had a three-day training the first week in August and another three-day session later in the month just on Google Classroom.

It was noted teachers may be having a hard time keeping up with both the in class lessons and the online lessons. Dowling said he knows other schools are having in person classes four days a week and keeping their students home on Fridays to give teachers time to work with the online learners. Southern Local has been doing a two-hour delay one day a week for that reason. Dowling suggested the board would discuss some options about giving teachers more time when the went into executive session at the end of the meeting Tuesday.

In other matters:

— The board approved a two-year administrative contract for Brinker, assistant elementary principal; a three-year contract for Julie Dowling, assistant treasurer; a one-year limited contract for Alexis Powell, cafeteria worker; a three-year contract for Whitney Tsesemilles, EMIS coordinator; and Karleigh Holderbaum, athletic trainer.

— Jordan Simpson was not approved as an assistant varsity volleyball coach when three board members voted no. The board rescinded the athletic trainer contract for Simpson.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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