Spokane Public School parents express worry over distance learning

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s a decision parents have been waiting for. Students who are enrolled in a Spokane Public School will start the next school year at home.

The district announced that students will do distance learning full-time when the school year starts. It’s something the superintendent didn’t take lightly.

“We are heartbroken and grieving that this is going to be the experience for our students in the fall,” said Dr. Adam Swinyard, superintendent for Spokane Public Schools.

Parents have been in limbo for months and they’ve been challenged by the learning environment at home when it started in the spring. Now, the challenges continue.

“How are we supposed to make sure a 7-year-old is making it to her classes virtually on time,” said Stacey Martin, whose two children attend a Spokane Public School.

Martin’s daughter is going into second grade and her son is heading to seventh. They’ll be learning from home, but Martin doesn’t know how this is going to work.

“What do I do now? I mean, I cannot do my job and support my job as a personal assistant,” she said. “It’s not even possible.”

Martin and her husband are weighing out their options.

“Now I’m looking at the possibility of do I need to choose work over school and could I work a part time schedule that maybe would work,” she said. “It’s stressful. It’s overwhelming. There’s so many variables.”

She even thought about a tutor or nanny. It’s not that easy though.

Martin is pleased with the thought process of SPS, but said this announcement came as a shock.

“But this idea of that you can have a school day 8:30 to 3 or whatever it’s going to look like, that definitely caught me by surprise,” she said.

The school district said student will have a real-time school day with start and end times. During the day, they’ll have a mix of group work, independent and live learning.

Students and teachers will use Microsoft Teams and each student will be issued a laptop.

The school district also said they’re hoping to have limited in-person instruction for small groups.

Both elementary and secondary schools have plans laid out by SPS.

Elementary SPS school plan Secondary SPS school plan

“As a parent that works, that has a partner that works. We don’t even know what direction we’re going to go,” Martin said. “How much do we solve for this versus knowing that you’re going to provide a solution for us.”

Martin said she hasn’t told her daughter yet, but said she is going to be heartbroken.

“We desperately want them to be in our school buildings and provide them in-person instruction and have consistently stated that we would follow the direction of public health officials,” Swinyard said. “We would much prefer and know that the best teaching and learning happens in our school buildings face to face, and we’re going to do everything that we can to provide an experience for our students to help them move forward.”

Swinyard said in the coming days SPS will released more details about the distance learning plan and what the transition back to the classroom could look like.

You can find more information about the distance learning plan here.

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