Some Nevis School Board members shared frustrations they and other parents in the district are facing with the hybrid learning model at Monday night’s meeting, where Superintendent Gregg Parks announced the district may need to switch the elementary to hybrid learning as well (which will be happening Monday).
“My children are suffering tremendously,” board member Justin Isaacson said. “I think as much as we can sticking to in-person learning is best for our kids. Who’s suffering? The kids are, in their ability to learn and their education level.”
He said when school is not in person it is challenging for parents as well. “It’s unfortunate all this is happening. It’s out of our control. But I think if we don’t continue to do as much in-person as we can, the brick and mortar learning is going to fail. People I’m talking to and hearing from are sick of it,” he said. “They want to find an alternative. There are people who are talking about grouping together and having individual teachers for age groups. We’re at our wits end. Parents are not teachers. For the most part, trying to keep your kids directed and listening to you, it’s not the same environment. It’s very difficult. I’m just very frustrated. I want to do something about it even though we can’t. We can’t say to the state we’re going to stick with in-person learning, you guys do whatever you want to.
“If this doesn’t shape up after this year, we’re going to find an alternative. We have to. My boy Ellis (a kindergarten student) loves being here, he loves interaction and they’re being deprived of it. I think it’s ridiculous. Who cares if you get sick for two weeks? Stay at home if you’re ill. I know we’re being forced into it. I think the biggest factor is the isolation and confinement, the inability to interact socially with people. That’s what’s killing my kids right now. It’s hard to see but what can I do. All they want to do is go to school, see their friends and be a kid.”
Board chair Andy Lindow agreed, “It’s tough right now. It’s not just Nevis, it’s nationwide and worldwide. People are suffering, but it is a global pandemic. It is what it is, and it is frustrating. But we’re all in it together. Other countries have done the same thing. There are families that are going out and getting a tutor to help out, especially if their child needs that. Other students thrive and excel (with distance learning). In-person learning for most students is by far the most effective. We might not see it now, but adversity can build a person.”
Parks said there is no substitute for a teacher in a room with their students. “What is going on right now is not the most optimal result, but kids are learning to be resilient, problem solve and adapt to different situations. I think we’re going to see them come out of this with learning new skills and independence.”
Board member Ed Becker said over 99 percent from the 0-21 age group recover, and the same is true for those 22-69. “The recovery rate is so phenomenal, but as a society, do the numbers really support the drastic measures we’ve been taking? Is it really necessary?”
Board member Maggie Stacey said she is outnumbered. “It’s me and four kids,” she said. “They are not learning as much. I’d rather have pen-and-paper homework.”
“Our charge is to keep the doors open as long as we can and make sure the kids and the staff here are safe,” Parks said. “Another issue we see is substitutes. If a teacher has to stay home, it’s a moving target every day. My phone has gone off three times with calls from staff members.”
“The alternative for those staff members might be people my age (for substitutes), and I’m not willing to come in because I am very much at risk,” said board member Larry Smith, a retired teacher. “You can’t run a school on hope. You’ve got to run a school in reality.”