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Checking In: 5 Families In 5 Districts Share Educational Journey With KSL

Nov 24, 2020, 11:07 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – KSL is following five families in five school districts who made different learning choices throughout this unprecedented school year.

Back in August, we introduced you to the Williams Family from Salt Lake City, the ‘Iongi Family from West Valley City, the Nagel Family from Park City, the Johnson Family from Herriman and the Pursglove Family from Sandy.

Now in the second quarter, we checked back in to find all of them have faced different challenges during the COVID-19 surge, which reflects the struggles faced by many Utah families.

“Unfortunately, our family was infected with the COVID,” said mom Luisa ‘Iongi.

All seven members of the family got the virus, though ‘Iongi said they didn’t pick it up from school.

It was when they let down their guard – and masks – on fall break.

“Going to the bowling alley, hanging with their cousins, going to McDonald’s,” ‘Iongi said.

Despite the quarantine, the ‘Iongis expressed the most happiness with their school situation: all in-person in Granite School District.

“In-person school has been great,” ‘Iongi said. “The kids have absolutely loved it.”

By contrast, thee Williams family won’t last the year on remote learning in the Salt Lake City School District.

“I want them to be in a different learning situation by January, for sure,” said mom Raina Williams.

Both parents work full time, and their five kids can’t fend for themselves.

The Williams hired a retired teacher as a private tutor for one daughter, and they hired a nanny to oversee homework and Zoom sessions for two of their boys.

“We made several adjustments, and that has definitely helped,” Williams said. “But it has taken a hit to the pocketbook.”

The family’s $1,500 per month bill is unsustainable, so they said they’d be looking at open enrollment in another district for the second half of the school year.

After we caught up with the Williams, the Salt Lake City School Board voted to begin returning students to the classrooms in phases beginning in January. The family said they’re “thrilled.”

Student Morgan Pursglove tried to go back to in-person learning in the Canyons School District. On the first class of the first day, though, she had a panic attack.

“I got totally sick going there,” she said.

Underlying health conditions have kept her home not only from school, but from other activities as well.

“Morgan is invited to parties Thursday nights, Friday nights, Saturday nights … sleepovers,” mom Stephanie Pursglove said. “She’s invited to so much.”

“It surprises me how many things are going on in the middle of a pandemic,” Morgan Pursglove added.

What’s concerning Stephanie Pursglove is what isn’t going on during the pandemic. She said there aren’t enough electives or live streaming options for at-home learners, and that hurts her daughter’s education and ability to get enough credits for graduation.

“I really don’t feel there was a plan for online,” she said. “I think these kids are being set up for a little bit of failure.”

That’s why Emily Johnson’s daughter, who is in the Jordan School District, is returning to the classroom.

The family originally chose distance learning to protect teachers, but they found the experience for their children was not equal.

Their youngest boy will continue school at home with a dedicated online teacher.

“The whole class is doing well, and he loves school,” Johnson said. “He won’t even consider going back right now.”

Finally, the Nagel family was pleasantly surprised about in-person school in the Park City School District from a health standpoint.

“I think clean hands and masks are doing the trick, for the most part,” said dad Matthew Nagel, who is also a teacher in the Park City district.

Masks didn’t turn out to be a big deal for sixth grader Henry Nagel.

“Masks don’t really bother me,” he said. “Everybody I see is wearing masks, so it’s all good.”

Academically, the response is more subdued, and it likely sums up the experience of most families.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going smoothly,” Matthew Nagel said. “I’m willing to say it’s going as well as it can.”

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Checking In: 5 Families In 5 Districts Share Educational Journey With KSL