Parents: SKPS is falling short on fall plans

The Keizertimes received 45 responses in their school survey regarding the distance-learning model Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) used in the spring and the district’s plan for the upcoming school year.

Twenty-nine of the parents that responded have at least one of their children in high school while 25 participants reported that they have a child in either preschool/kindergarten or elementary school. Twelve of the parents said that they have at least have one of their children in middle school.

The results of the survey saw almost exclusively negative responses regarding the question that asked parents about their thoughts on spring distance learning.

“It was a joke. My middle schooler got his work done in one day and had nothing else the rest of the week. He maybe had two Google meets with teachers,” said one parent.

“I thought it was very hard to retain information and most teachers didn’t know how to teach online,” said another participant. 

Additionally, more than 64% of participants cited that they didn’t feel that the school district has adequately explained what is happening in SKPS this fall.

Many of the parents reported some of the questions they still want answered. 

There were multiple questions regarding the differences between the district’s EDGE program — which is SKPS’s new all-online learning academy — and Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL), which will start as an online platform, then will have kids return to in-person class when it is deemed safe — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 66% of parents responded that they will be having their students participate in CDL, while 17.8% said that they would put their kids in the EDGE program.

There were also several parents questioning the logistics of having online school.

“I don’t feel like we have enough info on the schedule, what topics will be taught, what extras we can do as parents to teach our children,” said one of the respondents.

Another point-of-emphasis was regarding what (if anything) the district will do for parents that need childcare — in Oregon, kids under the age of 10 cannot be home alone.

“I want to know why they bothered doing surveys if they weren’t even going to take into consideration homes where both parents are working full time,” one commenter said.

“How are working families supposed to make this work? It was a struggle last time and I foresee it being harder this time,” said another parent.

Just under a quarter of participants reported that the need for additional childcare would put a strain on their financial situation. More than 30% of parents also said that they have not yet figured out their childcare situation for the fall — 64.4% of participants said that they would not be needing childcare.  

When asked how distance learning will affect adults with job/careers in their household, 20% said they wouldn’t be effected, 33.3% said they would be able to make it work and 46.7 % admitted that they currently don’t have a plan.

Part of CDL’s model is the expectation of family-supported applied learning at home. However, 46.7% of survey participants said that they feel like they could only support their students in some classes, while 26.7% said that they couldn’t assist their students at all with their class work.

Parents were also asked how comfortable they were with their children returning to in-person instruction on a 1-5 scale, with 5 being completely comfortable and 1 being not comfortable at all. Only 26.7% of parents marked that they were not comfortable with their students going back to in-person classes. However, 46.7% said that they were completely comfortable sending their kids back to school.

Nearly all parents who participated in the survey reported concerns about the upcoming school year.

One parent said: “Aside from obvious academic concerns with online school, our students are being robbed of some of the most important things about high school: socialization, routine, sports, clubs, interaction with teachers and so many more.”

Another participant expressed concern that her child “is going to fall behind and fail because we won’t be able to assist the way that will be needed.”