Virtual learning is just not working for Susan H. and her 6-year-old twins who are now in first grade.
The Midlands mom had to do something on Friday morning when her daughter had another meltdown while trying to get through the school day at home.
Susan told FITSNews she wants Lexington-Richland School District 5 officials to understand what three days a week of virtual learning is looking like for a lot of parents and kids — so she captured her daughter’s tearful breakdown on video (below) and posted it to Instagram.
“This is what you’ve done to my child,” Susan shared in a caption. “This is NOT a result of her teacher in any way.. it’s the hybrid model’s fault. Thanks Lex Rich 5 for not only ruining her day, but ruining her love of school.”
In the video, the 6-year-old is crying. She’s frustrated — she can’t find the “s” key on her laptop. She tries to ask her teacher to slow down.
“I want to go to real school,” she mumbles between bursts of tears. “I want to see my teacher.”
As Lexington-Richland School District 5 elementary students, Susan’s kids go to physical school Monday and Tuesday and do virtual learning at home Wednesday through Friday.
Susan said the meltdowns like the one in the video are becoming a daily occurrence in her household during the three days a week her kids attend virtual learning.
“I have multiple episodes like the one I videoed today. Sometimes it’s tears, sometimes it’s anger, sometimes it’s defiance,” she said. “They are 6, what did we expect?”
Susan does not blame her children’s teacher for any of this. She said that her teacher immediately texted her when she saw that the 6-year-old was upset Friday morning.
“Pretty much every teacher in our district is in this terrible situation,” she said. “They see their kids upset and there is nothing they can do about it. All they can do is offer support via text, email or phone.”
Susan can see a clear difference in her twins’ moods between the days they attend school face-to-face and the days they learn virtually.
“The days they have ‘real school’ as they call it, they are excited and happy. They love seeing their teachers and friends. The days they have virtual is a different story,” Susan told FITSNews.
Susan is by no means alone in her feelings of frustration toward Lexington-Richland School District Five. Earlier this week, more than 100 parents protested for five-day, face-to-face learning, WIS reported.
Worse this year?
Susan decided to quit her job at an elementary school to help her kids with virtual learning this school year, which began on September 8. Considering District 5 parents aren’t sure how long they will be doing the hybrid model, Susan said she’s glad she made the decision to stay home.
“Between technical issues, the teacher having to ask kids to mute over and over, the speed at which things have to be done, my kids are barely keeping up,” she said.
Susan said that this year’s at-home learning has actually been worse on her kids compared to the spring. In March, Gov. Henry McMaster shut down schools across South Carolina in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. School districts and teachers were left scrambling to find ways to finish the semester at home.
“Last year, we did packets and received pre recorded lessons. I feel like that was better for pacing,” Susan said. “It was more work for parents to upload finished work, but we also had the option to drop off work at the school if tech was an issue.
Susan said that technology issues have constantly caused problems with her 6-year-olds’ virtual school experience — between freezing screens, slowly loading computers, suddenly getting kicked off classes, and her kids not understanding how to click links or mute themselves — it’s non-stop frustration.
“We were all issued chrome books this year, but they are old and slow,” Susan said. “We have had to switch out one already because it quit working.”
Susan also realizes that a lot of other parents have it worse than she does, she said.
“I don’t know how other working/single parents or parents without internet resources are doing this AT ALL,” she said.
Who’s to blame?
Susan said she shared the video because she knows so many other parents — across the district and across the country — are feeling the same way.
“It is the fault of the Board trying to avoid liability and not putting kids first,” she said.
She said she hopes the District 5 school officials who decided on the hybrid model see the video and “understand what this is doing to kids.”
“Hearing stories is much different than actually seeing a child meltdown,” she said. “This video should bring to light all the kids that don’t have a parent to help or hug because they are at work. These problems are REAL and these kids deserve more than a decision made by people who don’t have small children.”
Earlier this year, District 5 board members voted on an emergency resolution that gave chairman Michael Cates and Superintendent Christina Melton the ability to waive or suspend “provisions of existing policies, administrative procedures, and other rules” related to Gov. Henry McMasters COVID-19 executive order. Read more on that here.
In a statement to ABC Columbia earlier this week, District 5 Superintendent Christina Melton said the hybrid model was meant to be temporary.
“As a district, the hybrid model option was designed as a temporary, transitional model. Our commitment has been to return to five-day instruction, as soon as possible, with a focus on safety, security and compliance with local and state guidelines,” she said in the statement.
The District 5 school board meets next on September 28. Officials could decide to bring the kids back for five days a week face-to-face learning next month.
“A reminder that this is an election year and parents all over have moments like this everyday and I’m sure that will sway their voting decisions,” Susan said.
South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman wrote a letter to school districts earlier this week to encourage school districts to return to five-day face-to-face learning for children who need it the most, including elementary students, WIS reported.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to email@example.com.
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