EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Parents Concerned After SLC District Announces At-Home Learning Days

Aug 10, 2021, 6:46 PM | Updated: Aug 11, 2021, 10:13 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Just weeks before the start of the school year, the Salt Lake City School District announced the addition of four, at-home learning days to the calendar so that teachers can receive professional development.

The school board approved the asynchronous learning days on Aug. 3.

Parents were then alerted through an email.

“These four asynchronous days will allow your child’s teachers to receive high-quality, ongoing, professional learning that will positively impact instruction and your child’s overall learning experience,” said an email from Salt Lake City School District superintendent Timothy Gadson.

The email went on to say that teachers in kindergarten through third grade will receive literacy training that’s being required by the Utah State Board of Education.

Fourth- through sixth-grade teachers will participate in the same literacy training, or math or science learning.

“Secondary teachers will participate in content-specific learning,” the email said.

The at-home learning days will happen on the following Tuesdays:

  • Oct. 5, 2021
  • Dec. 7, 2021
  • Feb. 15, 2022
  • April 19, 2022

“These were additional days that were required by the state board, so we had to get a little bit creative in how we got them done,” said district spokesperson Yándary Chatwin.

Chatwin said the school board weighed options before ultimately deciding to go with the at-home learning days.

“Do we cut spring break short? Do we not have a fall break? Do we extend the school year out a little longer?” she said.

Chatwin said the district is trying to give parents as much time as possible to prepare and modify work schedules if needed.

“These four days will primarily be non-computer based,” Chatwin said. “So students will receive materials or packets or worksheets in advance.”

“I think we all think professional development is great for teachers and administrators — we all support that,” said Mary Catherin Perry, whose children attend school in the district. “But counting that time where children are at home doing independent learning as instruction hours? I think feels kind of like a COVID convenience.”

After experiencing the significant disruptions to the 2020-2021 school year, Perry said she’s concerned about how much student learning will actually happen during the at-home days.

“For those of us who watched children have asynchronous learning days, I think most of us would say there wasn’t a lot of learning happening on those days at all,” Perry said.

Perry and another parent told KSL-TV that they worry about how families in the district will manage the at-home learning days.

“I think it will present numerous challenges for parents,” Perry said. “Parents who aren’t equipped to help their children or support them with the subject matter. Parents who have to work and have to find child care.”

“That day is going to land on one of the parents, and if the parents can’t be there, if I can’t be there, then it lands on whatever kind of daycare provider they can get for that day,” said parent Emily Bell McCormick.

McCormick hopes parents aren’t caught off guard by the at-home days, and that the rest of the upcoming school year goes as planned.

“We’re hopeful that this is the last surprise,” McCormick said.

The school district said that it will send reminders to parents throughout the school year and also make sure that meals are still provided to students on the at-home learning days.

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Parents Concerned After SLC District Announces At-Home Learning Days