Some Lafayette parents are frustrated with what they perceive as a rushed return to school and feel stuck with limited options as the district asks parents to enroll their children in the Lafayette Online Academy two weeks before the start of school.
The Lafayette Parish School System announced on Wednesday that it is asking parents who have applied for a place in the Lafayette Online Academy to enroll their children in the self-directed e-learning program by 4:30 p.m. Monday to allow time staffing decisions.
If they didn’t, their request would be removed from the system, a district statement said.
Parents expressed frustration with online change, writing in personal messages and parent Facebook groups where they felt limited by demand and felt they were losing opportunities to decide what was best for them. children.
Some do not think the virtual school’s Edgenuity learning platform will provide a quality educational experience, while others are comfortable with the program but still question the rush to return to class then that more preparation would be valuable to everyone.
Brandy Broussard Williams hired her 15-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, junior and freshman respectively at Acadiana High, at Lafayette Online Academy on Saturday. Williams said she sat her children down earlier in the summer and told them they would not be returning to face-to-face classes in the fall if the novel coronavirus was still a threat in the community.
When Lafayette Online Academy was announced as an option, Williams decided to switch from a home schooling plan to the virtual learning option.
She said her children have used Edgenuity in the past for limited lessons and that her eldest son, who graduated from Edward J. Sam Accelerated School in Lafayette, mainly used Edgenuity for his lessons, so they are at comfortable with the platform.
Williams works from home as a customer service representative for Waitr and will be able to monitor her children’s learning, but is concerned about teachers’ responsiveness in support roles when she cannot help her children. to navigate the common core strategies. She is also concerned about ensuring that her son, who suffers from ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), receives accommodations like the extended testing time he would receive during an in-person class.
If Lafayette Online Academy proves difficult for her children, the mother-of-three has said she will pursue school system resources and tutoring before sending her two youngest children back to Acadiana High. Attending in-person classes right now is not an option as she doesn’t feel sure the school system is ready to handle virus security protocols, she said.
âI think it’s going to be chaos,â Williams said.
“I feel like adults don’t follow policies, so how are we going to think kids will do that in school?” We now have adults who do not wear a mask when they go out even though it is mandatory to wear a mask now. Children feed on adults. If they see that their parents don’t, they’ll go to school and say, âI don’t have to because my mom doesn’t or my dad doesn’t. do it.’ And then they put my child’s life in danger, âshe said.
The kids were opposed at first, she said. Her son is excited to learn the ropes of high school and her daughter is ready to enjoy the privileges of the upper class and continue with JROTC, but when she explained that the school would not be the same and spoke to them candidly about the dangers of the virus, they heated up the idea, Williams said.
Two family members tested positive for COVID-19 after meeting an infected person and both were asymptomatic. It’s scary that you don’t know who might be carrying the virus, she said.
Amanda Reeves has said she is waiting until the last possible moment to confirm her youngest daughter’s place in the Lafayette Online Academy. Reeves said she has shed countless tears and spent sleepless nights worrying about making the best decision for her children and she hopes circumstances will change before 4:30 p.m. on Monday.
Reeves’ eldest daughter, 13 at Scott Middle, was enrolling this year at Lafayette Online Academy for personal reasons before the pandemic hit, but her youngest daughter is in fifth year of the Magnet program at J. Wallace James Elementary and planned to finish his elementary career there.
The 10-year-old has been at J. Wallace James since kindergarten and loves school, but her 13-year-old sister has asthma and the family doesn’t want to risk the virus being brought into their home.
Reeves isn’t convinced the Edgenuity-based online program will work well for her daughter, but she has been told that if she pursues non-LPSS options, like home schooling or a virtual charter school, her student fifth graders would lose their place in the magnetic academy. .
The mother-of-two said she felt the district was intimidating parents into choosing between bad options.
“I am more than appalled by the lack of compassion and concern from the school board, the LOA and everyone else now, when all we are trying to do is make the best decision for our children,” he said. said Reeves.
Reeves said she understands the district’s need for planning, but is frustrated that the options for transitioning from learning settings to last-minute changes are reduced, while admittedly Even in the district, the facts change every day, she said.
Communication and decision-making within the school system need to be more transparent, said Reeves.
While most of school life came to a halt this spring due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, constant construction continued on the wing adding …
Rhonda Kim Gleason, a local education advocate and mother of three, is also frustrated and works with the Lafayette families to push back school system plans and raise concerns about the safety of students, staff and the community as well as inequalities caused by the district return plan. . While people want a return to normalcy, this is not necessarily the best plan for the future, she said.
âHaving a status quo attitude in a viral pandemic is embarrassing,â Gleason said.
She hopes the school board will listen more carefully to the parents’ outcry and reconsider their plans to reopen at the August 12 board meeting.
Gleason has a 16 year old daughter who is in junior at Lafayette High and a 7 year old daughter who is in second grade at Myrtle Place Elementary. The Lafayette Online Academy may work well for its second-year student, who will still need French immersion supplements, but it will not serve its 16-year-old, who is expected to take four AP courses and three gifted courses this time. year, she said.
Some of the courses are not offered and the ones that are will not provide the rigorous discussion, critical thinking opportunities or engaging teaching methods that make advanced courses beneficial, she said. They hope to modify the blended learning program offered by the district so that she can learn the same material as her peers but not attend classes in person. How that might work is up in the air and attendance requirements are an obvious hurdle, she said.
Gleason suffers from multiple sclerosis and a partially suppressed immune system, and she and her children have adhered to a strict stay-at-home plan since the pandemic gripped the community in March. They stayed home with the exception of bi-weekly trips to the grocery store, nursing home visits for her MS treatments, and occasional remote and masked visits with loved ones taking similar safety precautions.
The longest Gleason has been in public is when she spoke out at the July 22 school board meeting against the district’s proposed reopening plan.
âI was not happy to feel that I had to do thisâ¦ I felt very uncomfortableâ¦ As an advocate, I wanted to say something, know my state of health, know the inequalities for my own children and be an educator aware of the inequalities that occur in all areas for children, âshe said.
Gleason said she was concerned the school board would prioritize economic concerns and reopening the economy over scientific evidence. While the school system polled parents for feedback on their future plans, these responses were taken weeks ago and no longer reflect the current context of the reality of the virus in the community, she said. .
Gleason, Reeves and Williams said they believe the school start date should be pushed back so the number of virus cases can drop, teachers and other staff can better prepare for the new measures. security and that the district can further address the inequalities faced by students. Then when the school starts, they think it should start 100% virtual, with the students operating in a phase 1 plan.
It would be better for kids and families, Gleason said.
âIf all the children are not served, I believe there is a failure. I don’t appreciate receiving good fortune when other students aren’t servedâ¦ I think we have to stand up for each other because then more people will flourish, âshe said.