Parents provide concerns with their remote learning experiences
By Esmee Halsted
The October 6th, the Gilpin School board meeting highlighted some important changes and concerns at Gilpin School. Starting with some good news, the board discussed a new Facebook page. Then they moved to public discussion, where many parents spoke up with their concerns. Next, Dr. Dave addressed changes in the Gilpin schools learning plan and Covid procedures.
A new Facebook page created by the Gilpin community was created to help teachers. Teachers seek support, money, and supply donations from the site. Ms. Robinson, past Gilpin staff, started the site and Gilpin parents came to help. Generally, the board commented on the incredible community support. The Facebook page really goes a long way to help teachers and make in-person school easier, especially with statewide budget cuts.
Then parents expressed concerns for safety, teachers workload, and remote learning. First off, a mother of a young elementary student thanked Heather Huntoon, Elementary principal, for resolving a concern she had. Next, Kayla and Becky, two mothers of remote learners, explained how they felt their kids were being neglected. Becky said, “Our teachers are spread really thin for our remote learners. Something needs to change. There are kids being neglected in our school system.” Joining in with Kayla and Becky, another parent had similar concerns. Rebecca, a parent of a remote learner and an ICU nurse said, “The school is doing a bad job protecting students and staff. Gilpin is not safe from Covid. You cannot treat these teachers like they are in a normal school day. You need to have a proper hybrid model. Help us. Do not think Covid cannot come here.” Furthermore, Rebecca expressed the need for better procedures and plans. She criticized the way Gilpin schools have solved problems as they went along instead of planning ahead. As Board member Steve Boulter often says, “We are trying to build a plane while flying it” – an approach that may need to be changed.
After public discussion, Dr. Dave, superintendent, explained changes in the learning plan such as quarantine cohorts, hybrid schedule, and issues with remote learning. First off, the board discussed the mill levy. They shared how the school does need funding and encouraged Gilpinites to vote for a mill levy coming up on the ballot. Then Dr. Dave reported on quarantine cohorts. Essentially, in Elementary school quarantine cohorts will be determined by grade. In secondary, they will rely more heavily on contact tracing. Moving onto remote and hybrid learning, Dr. Dave explained how the block schedule allows for teachers in high school to have time to address remote learners. Elementary is a different story. “Remote students are getting a little slighted in elementary school. Teachers are trying to do two separate classes in one school day. We need to improve at providing more remote learning time. We are going to add some of our other staff in to supervise the students.” As for the hybrid, Dr. Dave explained how it is not working at an educational level. “Most schools that are doing hybrid are much larger. Hybrid really does not make a lot of sense to do for us.” He went on to say how families are choosing when their students come into school, which allows no structure for teachers. Dr. Dave recommended that the board remove the hybrid program. As such hybrid will no longer be an option starting October 12th. While funding is very tight, the school is still needing to hire a custodian and a preschool teacher.
In other news, the federal government is reimbursing all school meals. Gilpin school buses have been socially distant, and parent teacher conferences are being held virtually. New updates and changes have been made to Gilpin’s learning plan.
The October 6th board meeting made for some great discussion about changes that need to be made, the exciting community involvement, and improvement of the plan Gilpin School already has. Parents of remote learners find themselves feeling neglected and tossed aside which means Gilpin School needs to adjust accordingly. The community has found a unique way to help teachers. The Gilpin community can also support the school by voting for the mill levy on the ballot. While the hybrid option is no longer available to Gilpin’s students, quarantine cohorts and other changes mean good things for Gilpin School.