HUSD Virtual Learning

HUSD Virtual Learning

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Jennfier Blaes started this petition to Higley Unified School District Leadership

I am writing to request that the Higley Unified School District continue the current virtual learning model for the 2020-2021 school year, as well as to express our concerns with the different models.  This document focuses only on the methodology of off-campus learning. This is not intended to address the decision to return to campus for the students that wish to.  For the purposes of this document, "in-person" refers to regular on-campus learning, "online-only" refers to online learning with the Florida Virtual Academy Curriculum, and "virtual" refers to the current learning being offered as we begin the school year.

We appreciate that Higley USD is doing as much as they can to support families & students: making meals available at schools & bus stops, distributing technology to facilitate online learning, keeping us updated as best you can, and more.  The outreach, communication, and concern coming from our individual schools and teachers has been wonderful.

The combination of live online meetings and independent learning is working well for my student(s). I would like to see this current model continue - or be the base of our online learning model - for the 2020-21 school year.  

Our current learning model allows interaction and live feedback from my student's teacher(s).  Our current model is a workable balance of live and independent learning.  Can we not use the purchased online curriculum to supplement, rather than replace this model?

There are a variety of reasons that families have for not wanting to send their students back to campus.  Whether out of concern for the health of their student, of their at-risk family at home, of the teachers & staff, or other reasons, many parents do not wish to send their students back to campus.

Some of the many concerns that parents would like HUSD leadership to hear are listed below:

DISRUPTIONS / CONSISTENCY IN LEARNING
- Many parents are concerned with the disruptions to on-campus learning that will occur when quarantines are necessary. 
- If our students return to campus, but must then quarantine, how will their learning continue?  If they must quarantine due to exposure in their 1st Period class, will their other classes offer online support?  How will the logistics of that work? 
- Are there adequate substitute teachers available to support in-person classes?
- Emotional Impact of multiple transitions: How many different learning environments will students have to adjust to during transitions from our current model (to either in-person or online), back to virtual in case of quarantine / shutdown, teacher reassignments for online vs virtual vs in-person learning, etc?
- HUSD has stated that students may transition back to in-person learning at the beginning of each quarter.  How will that work if they have had to change the courses being taken?  For example, would a student be allowed to rejoin the AP Blend class, or another class not offered online, if they begin the year online?  
- For students who need to change from in-person to online midway through the year, many of the same concerns apply.  Do they get a half-credit for the coursework completed in person but not offered online, especially if the course is a full-year course?
- How will absences from in-person schooling be handled?  Will current guidelines of "no more than __ absences" be updated?

HIGH SCHOOL
- The classes offered online may not allow students to take a full course load.  Will additional classes be offered later to allow students to catch up?
- They may lose progress toward their graduation, as well as lose the opportunity to graduate with various seals (Arts Proficiency, Civics Literacy, Bilteracy, Capstone Diploma, Advanced STEM Diploma, etc.).  
- Are any details available regarding allowing students on campus to take elective courses that are unavailable online, reducing their exposure risks (compared to full-time in-person learning)?
- What options are available for dual-enrollment as an online student?  Are students allowed to take any CGCC all-online courses for HUSD credit?

MIDDLE SCHOOL
- Will the online Spanish still count as a high school credit?  Algebra & Geometry?
- How will distancing work during passing periods?  During lunch?

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
- Curriculum consistency: for students in special programs, such as HTA or HPAL, online-only offerings do not meet their needs / continue their programs.  How do they continue learning new material?
- Adapting to changing teachers, losing interaction (via virtual meetings) with classmates will be hardest on our youngest learners.  Our current learning method allows social interaction with both teachers & fellow students, which we feel is important for student mental health & development.

TEACHER & STAFF CONCERNS
- Teachers are already asked to do so many things, asking them to be the primary protection of our children's health is a concern.  Will class time be used to clean surfaces?  For students to wash hands?
- How will teacher's sick leave policy be updated to allow for mandated quarantines?  Will they be financially penalized should they be required to quarantine or become ill?  
- What if multiple teachers in a department are absent at the same time?
- Do we have qualified substitutes to keep classes on-pace if teachers are required to quarantine off campus for 10-14 days?
- We support teachers who wish to continue teaching via our current model, as it allows them to teach our children without compromising their health or their students'.

FACILITY CONCERNS
- How will distancing work during lunch?
- Are the facilities still available for rent to outside groups?  What cleaning / disinfecting is done after the rental before students & staff are in the building again?
- How will disinfecting or distancing be possible on buses? 
- What are the protocols for notification when students or staff test positive?  How will contact tracing be done and communicated within HUSD?

We recognize that many parents are selecting to send their students back to campus.  That is the long-term goal for most families.  With the current offerings, families are feeling forced to choose between educational progress and student health/safety.  If the current Canvas-based virtual education model were to continue to be offered, many families would choose that to continue their student's learning without disruption.  Many families are unhappy with the online-only model that will be offered once campus reopens, specifically because it loses the live instruction and social & academic interaction.  In addition, the loss of courses available for online-only is a great concern, especially for older students.

We urge the leadership of Higley Unified School District to continue offering the current educational model throughout the school year, or for as long as any online learning is offered.   

Thank you

*****
By signing below, I want to let HUSD Leadership know that I share these concerns, as well as the desire to see HUSD continue offering the current virtual learning program.

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