The ICSD needs to commit to equal opportunities for in-person and online learners

The ICSD needs to commit to equal opportunities for in-person and online learners

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Corinna Loeckenhoff started this petition to Ithaca City School District

On September 16, 2020 the Ithaca City School District announced an updated plan for the transition to in-person learning which requires all teachers without medical exemptions to teach in school buildings. This raises concerns about the district’s commitment to maintain an online learning option that is of comparable quality as in-person learning.

The district has yet to release details on what will be offered to online-only learners after the reopening, but initial communications suggest that 1) online-only cohorts in elementary schools will be substantially larger than class sizes in regular school years (some schools are considering cohorts of more than 30 students, sometimes drawing from multiple schools and multiple grade levels) and 2) middle- and high-school teachers will simultaneously teach online and in-person students posing the risk that online students become second-class learners.

Potential inequities between in-person and online learners raise major concerns because 1) they would be unfair to the 48% of families who chose online learning in good faith that the district would equally serve their students 2) they would create a strong incentive for families to switch to in-person learning at the earliest possible opportunity and thus increase school occupancy to unmanageable and unsafe levels.

We urge the district to:

1) Publicly commit to offering an online learning option of comparable quality as in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.

2) Completely avoid mixed online/in-person lessons  at the elementary level and minimize them at the middle- and high-school level.

3) Keep class sizes of elementary online cohorts comparable to class sizes in regular school years (25 or less).

4) When mixed online/in-person lessons are unavoidable, provide training and technological equipment (e.g., lapel microphones, positionable cameras, lighting) to ensure that online learners aren’t merely “listening-in” to an in-person classroom but are treated as equal learners with equal opportunities for interaction and active learning.

5) Keep online students with IEPs matched with service providers that they have developed relationships with.

6) Establish an oversight committee, staffed by ICSD teachers with full access to all relevant information to track and address differences in learning outcomes between online and in-person cohorts and regularly report back to the public. This committee should be composed in equal parts of teachers who have previously expressed online versus in-person teaching preferences.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!