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Parents Discuss Challenges Of Remote Learning

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – When the school year started, parents were assured children would get the same education, whether they returned in person or on-line but after one month, many parents don’t believe remote learning has lived up to that promise.

“They just aren’t learning the same amount as those who are in-class instruction, where they’re able to ask questions,” said mother Raina Williams.

Her five children are remote learning in the Salt Lake City School District, where they had no choice. School is online only until the COVID-19 levels subside.

The Johnson family of Herriman chose remote learning to protect teachers who had to be in school. One of their three children is thriving.

“Then I have two that have good and bad days and struggle with different parts of it,” said mother Emily Johnson.

Lisa Eskesen questions the quality of remote learning every time her third grader opens her laptop for her Zoom English class.

“From what I can tell, there are about 70 kids this teacher is responsible for,” she said.

The Eskesen family chose to keep their children home for safety. Since their students are in a dual language immersion program, their daughter was put in a class with the other third graders in the Jordan School District, learning a second language from home.

What’s worse than the huge class is the fact that the state still hasn’t completed the online curriculum for many grades and languages offered.

Many students who have spent years learning a second language, have spent the last month doing very little in that language.

“With each day that passes, and we don’t have anything, she’s getting further and further behind her peers,” said Eskesen. “It’s not what we were told it would be. That’s the disappointing thing. Had we known we might have made different decisions.”

The State Board of Education acknowledges the frustration. Karl Bowman, Dual Language Immersion and World Languages Specialist, said developing and translating curriculums has been a “heavy lift.” They hope to have all material ready for school districts within two weeks.

For some families, teacher training has made learning difficult. The Pursglove family in Sandy described one of their daughter’s teachers who forgets to publish assignments and is not responsive to emails.

Technology is also a barrier. Salt Lake School District had to postpone starting school because they were short 6,000 devices. Once the five Williams children all had devices, the family then had to invest in upgrading modems and new routers.

On the other hand, at least one family said remote learning has also been a blessing. The process of working closely with a child revealed a potential problem.

“One of my kids, I’m starting to wonder if there is some sort of learning disability that we hadn’t acknowledged before because there’s never been that one on one, said Emily Johnson.

In the end, the parents who felt like remote learning was equal to learning in person, say it is because of what they are doing to fill the gaps.

The Pursgloves hired a tutor for their daughter who they describe as a saving grace.

“I think if we were just doing what the district provided, I don’t think it would be,” said Stephanie Pursglove.

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