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Pitch to distance learning-only model a concern for families

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 5:18 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - One of the most important school board meetings to date is coming up this Tuesday.

Washoe County School District Superintendent, Dr. Kristen McNeill, is expected to recommend a distance-learning only model to the Board of Trustees. A decision she calls “gut-wrenching.”

“I know that our students are better off in-person and in our schools,” Dr. McNeill said.

Dr. McNeill understands the Coronavirus is outpacing the district’s resources. In order to keep students, teachers, and parents safe, she will ask to have everyone learn remotely starting December 7 and lasting through January 19.

“We need to make sure that students either have their own device, or provide them a device,” Dr. McNeill said of the availability of laptops for students.

Every student should have access to a computer sometime in December when the district gets a new shipment of devices.

The push to distance learning will no doubt put a strain on some families. Liz Socia’s daughters both go to McQueen High School. She understand’s there is not a perfect way to maximize learning and safety for all in any learning model.

“On one hand, I think it’s a positive choice (to move to an all-distance learning model) because of the spike in COVID numbers,” said Socia. “But on the other hand it’s going to be really challenging for those teachers and those students to stay engaged.”

Socia’s daughter, Willow Valdez, has been on the hybrid model this semester.

“I do like being in person at least half the time if that’s all we can do,” Valdez said. “(I say that) because I have a connection with my teachers and I actually feel like I’m working toward something.”

Any type of in-person learning could stop next month. Valdez admits she struggles with the online model. All she asks for is consistency from the district.

“(In the online learning model) you have to jump between program and program and program. Even some teachers don’t like to use the programs,” Valdez said. “They give you paper work. So you have four different platforms on where you’re doing your work. It’s really easy to mix those up.”

The district plans to work with partners on childcare, and nutrition and mental health services so students have resources.

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