Questions-Comments Support Hybrid Plan Page 1

 

Jamie Coleman
First, I would like to commend you on what is just an unenviable task. There is no right answer and you have all worked through this with unending patience and for that this mom is very appreciative.

I will start by saying I voted for the HYBRID option, thankful that my young children would be getting at least SOME face to face, in person instruction. I'm devastated that this is now being taken off the table. While many of my reasons for being upset lie in the memories and experiences that will be lost, I'd like to focus this email on my fear about my children's education. Our boys are heading into 3rd grade and 1st grade. They had WONDERFUL teachers last year. And even with that, Virtual Learning did NOT WORK for them. Specifically for our 6 year old. He completed his Kindergarten year and is still illiterate. Can't read at all. Unfortunately, his teacher went out on maternity leave in December, his long term sub was not a good fit, and so he hasn't had any in-person teaching since DECEMBER. He also does NOT respond well to his parents. We are not the voice he needs to hear and it was a constant struggle to get him to do his work. As a result, he didn't do much of it. We are doing everything we can to keep him from falling too far behind, and have even hired Mrs. Vacanti to do one on one tutoring with him twice/week, spending a lot of money to try and fix this situation. He is a perfect example of the failure of the virtual model - it didn't reach him at all.

That brings me to the reason for my email, because obviously you are going to vote on what you think is best and safest and if it's all virtual, nothing will change that. So I've been trying to brainstorm on ways to make things BETTER. My husband is a HS teacher at Plymouth Whitemarsh. I think we need to start by making sure our teachers are given the proper training to teach virtually! As of this email, my husband has yet to have any communication from the district, and has no knowledge of whether he will get said training except to tell me he assumes it will come that in service week before school. (I'll add he doesn't even know I'm sending this email.) 

Here's the thing. I'm a TV Sportscaster. I've had YEARS of experience and training when it comes to reaching people thru a screen, addressing a camera, engaging viewers etc. My husband and these teachers, all they know is how to engage children inside a classroom setting! They can see when someone is not paying attention, when a child isn't being reached, and they react accordingly! They are not trained to be engaging thru a screen, when talking to "nobody". Just this morning, my 6 yr old was participating in the Summer Literacy Blast and the teacher "lost him" 5 minutes into it. But because she's not actually sitting in front of him, she could never have known this. 

And then there's the spectrum of teachers, some who are well-versed in technology, and others who are not. There's no way to guarantee everyone is getting an equal learning experience. 

I guess I'm writing to make sure that our teachers will get adequate training to support them during this un-natural, unexpected time in their careers. And that we as parents will also receive more resources so as to better reach our unreachable children. I know the "model" will look a lot different than it did in the spring, but will the "message" get across? Or will it get lost in translation thru Zoom just based on the nature of virtual learning being VIRTUAL?

Thanks so much for listening. And thank you for all you are doing for our children.

 

Jay and Randi Halbert
We live in Lafayette Hill and have a rising 7th grader at CMS and 11th grader at PW.  We are writing to express our extreme disappointment and anger that the original plan unanimously passed by the Board, where families had the option of selecting hybrid or all-virtual education for their children, is now being abandoned only two weeks after its adoption.  Dr. Christian, the Administration, and the Board clearly put in a great deal of thought, time, and effort into creating this plan, which we greatly appreciate.  In our view, the previously approved plan established a reasonable balance between providing a high quality education and minimizing health risks.

We believe that virtually everyone agrees that in-person learning is preferable to fully remote learning, including among others, the American Association of Pediatrics, which has come out strongly in favor of in-person learning.  In addition to the obvious educational benefits, in-person learning is also better for the mental and emotional well being of the children. 

Therefore, we would like to understand why the school board is now voting to abandon the hybrid plan as a choice and mandating the entire student body “attend” school in an all-virtual capacity.  The science has not changed in the last two weeks and the local number of COVID cases has not increased, so why deprive our students of in-person learning when the District has come up with a way to do so in a safe manner? 

We are hard-pressed to come up with a rationale for why the District is now doing a sudden "about face" in its education plan.  Dr. Christian, the Board, and the District have an incredibly important obligation to educate our children in the most effective manner possible.  And it is obvious that you all take this responsibility seriously.  Because in-person learning is the most effective method, and it is possible to do so in a relatively safe manner, we are confident that you can figure out a way to overcome any remaining obstacles in order to do so.  In fact, we believe you have a duty to find an alternative way to get to the right result which puts students first.

We look forward to hearing you speak at Thursday's meeting.  Additionally, we are happy to discuss any of the above with you.

 

Erica Bracchi
I respectfully ask that you strongly consider the concerns of our community regarding a 100% virtual only school opening. I appreciate your time and support on this matter. That being said, please consider the following.

Local daycares, youth sports and summer camps have been operating all summer with very little to no COVID related impacts. My kids are participating in local sports and local camps. It has gone very smoothly with processes in place. What data has changed in the past few weeks to cause Colonial to reconsider the school re-opening approach?  Data is key.

Below are the reasons I believe taking away the hybrid model is not in the best interest of our community, school district, students, teachers and families:

·        Kids do not learn and grow as well in the virtual setting. Bottom line. Our kids will suffer academically, emotionally and socially. These are formative years.

·        We, as parents, are not equipped or properly trained to give our kids the support they need to learn at home 100% of the time. ESPECIALLY THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL KIDS. I know our teachers will do their very best to support our kids but it simply does not work.

·        Elementary level kids will not stay engaged from home all day nor can they do 1 hour of work a day like in the spring.

·        The virtual model is not sustainable or realistic with families with 2 working parents (such as my family). Something will HAVE to suffer.

·        We are currently in the green phase in Pennsylvania however we are operating like we are in red. There is no consistency.

Key Questions:

-        What data has changed in Montgomery County in the past 2 weeks to cause this change?  The change of surrounding school districts should not impact our decision.

-        How can we be confident the daily structure will be robust and engaging for our kids? 

-        What type of one-on-one level of interaction with the kids have with the teachers? (In the spring my son would receive a comment in Google classroom daily that said “good work today!”. We need more!)

-        How will our kids get to know their teachers and build a relationship?

I respectfully ask that you consider our community and provide us the options we deserve when it comes to sending our children back to school.  If school opening needs to be pushed back until after Labor Day in order to prepare accordingly then so be it. But we need choices. We are all in different scenarios. This is not a one-size fits all option.

 

Jen and Rich Schindler
I am shocked that our school district is now saying that this decision has to do with the actual virus numbers and not giving parents the REAL reason.  It is my understanding that the true reason is that we will not have enough teachers showing up for work in September to hold school.  We parents, taxpayers of this school district, deserve to know the truth.  You should not hide behind a neighboring county's numbers for the virus, which are very low in our district.  I understand that people are afraid, but teachers have always wanted to be considered ESSENTIAL, which I believe they are, but for that, they need to show up to work.

I am extremely concerned about how my son will be taught this Fall.  Last Spring, he had very few live teaching sessions.  Math was the worst.  He had one live class for 4H Integrated Math.  The rest of his classes were recorded or Kahn Academy videos were linked to his syllabus. If Nate had questions, he muddled through it, searched the Web, asked his sister (she was living at home then, but won't be here this Fall) or finally he could attend office hours for his teacher, if they didn't conflict with another class or office hours.  While at home, Nate's teachers with children seldom taught their classes at all.  This was understandable during the lock-down; I will no longer find this acceptable this Fall. If our teachers do not want to teach while being present in school with children, then they should be sitting in their classrooms alone, teaching to the web camera each and every school day.

Nate is taking two AP classes this year, as well as starting PW's new IB program and taking 5H Math.  These are not easy classes when taught with in-person instruction.  My husband and I would like to know your plans for the AP courses, especially considering that you have outlined a 4-day school week.  How will these work?  Will he be expected to teach the content to himself?  We would also like to better understand how the IB program will work virtually.  We need this information so we can decide if we will continue with Colonial School District for the year, or pull him out and enroll him a more advanced, focused and experienced Virtual High School for the fall. 

It is important for us to mention that our son's psyche is of concern to us, as well.  After being holed-up in his room for months this past Spring, he had a difficult time reengaging with his friends this summer.  We cannot bare the thought of him spending an inordinate amount of time alone at this desk, head in his computer, with no social interactions this Fall.  As administrators, both of you should be immensely concerned about the mental health of your students.

The American Association of Pediatrics has publicly stated that returning to school this Fall is of paramount importance for the well-being of our children.

When did the teachers become more important than students in our district?

 

Jamie Leibowitz
My question would be what made you look at taking hybrid away? Was it the teachers that didn’t want to go into school because The numbers show that children are not getting sick from Covid-19. And maybe this is a more towards the older kids that they want to be in school. Also going virtual with this mean no sports at all? No tryouts at all? I last question would be why pushing school back to November would make any difference at all? The virus is still going to be here there will be not vaccines yet and even if there were it doesn’t mean people are gonna run out and get it.  So what is the difference of going to school now or in November, because my thinking is in November you’re just gonna push us back to January.

 

Gavin Kelly
First off, we wanted to say thanks to the Board for their work during this time.  We have two children in the district (one at WES and one at CES).  We voted for the hybrid option because we strongly believe that the continued remote at home learning environment is doing more harm to most kids then this virus ever could.  We understand the need to protect the vulnerable and it seems you already have plans in place to do so.  If the virus reappears in any concerning way in the  2020-2021 school year, the switch to all virtual learning could be instantaneous but until that happens we hope that you would please consider starting the year with the hybrid option so the kids can get back to at least some sense of normalcy and a more focused learning environment.