SLC Students Plan To Rally For Return To In-Person Learning Amid Failing Grades

Dec 6, 2020, 9:02 PM | Updated: Dec 5, 2022, 11:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Students in the Salt Lake City School District said they are prepared to rally for the choice to go back to in-person learning after data from the district showed the number of students who are failing classes has skyrocketed.

A rally has been planned for after school on Monday at each of the district’s three high schools — West High School, East High School and Highland High School.

The Salt Lake City School District is the only district in the state that’s 100% remote learning for all students.

Some kids said the huge number of failing grades proves it isn’t working.

“It’s been rough, if I’m being honest,” said Josie Vaenuku, a senior at West High School. “I have a lot of siblings in my household and we’re all in the same district, so we’re all having zoom calls on at the same time. It’s loud.”

Josie said her classes haven’t been easy.

“I’m passing all of mine, but a lot of my friends have no motivation at all. They’re not passing anything at all,” she said.

Quincee Alo, a sophomore at West High, used to get 4.0s, but not this school year.

“I feel like grades were affected in a very negative way for me,” said Quincee. “There’s only so much I can do, there’s only so much parents can do and there’s only so much teachers can do.”

The Salt Lake City School District reported 4,000 middle and high school students received one or more F’s or incompletes in the first quarter. That’s a 60 percent increase of kids getting failing grades from 2019.

“What we need to remember is it’s the pandemic that’s having an impact on academic success,” said Yandary Chatwin, a spokesperson for the district. “A lot of families are being hit so hard that kids are having to take on additional responsibilities to be able to support their families through this time, which makes it difficult to engage in the same way with their academics.”

On Friday, principals sent emails to parents, detailing the numbers and the ways the schools are responding.

“If a student is showing struggles academically, there’s a reason behind it,” said Chatwin. “Our challenge right now is finding out what that is and seeing what we can do to address it.”

The school board voted to bring back elementary school kids in phases starting in January.

Many middle and high school students said the best option is to let them go back to school as well.

“I just want for our district to have a choice to go back to in-person school,” said Josie. “All these other districts in Utah have been given the choice.”

Students have also been complaining of depression and isolation.

At Monday’s rallies, students said they’ll try to get the attention of school administrators to ask for an option to return to in-person learning.

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SLC Students Plan To Rally For Return To In-Person Learning Amid Failing Grades