AKRON, Ohio — At least 60% of Akron students and their families say they want to ditch remote learning, according to a return to school survey mentioned during Monday’s school board meeting.
Madison Dies, a junior at Firestone Community Learning Center, is one of them.
“It's easier to understand a lesson when a teacher is in front of you talking to you rather than talking at you from a tiny box,” she said.
Dies told board members softball and cross country have been her only dose of normalcy since the pandemic began.
“Overall whether remote or in-person students need quality interaction with their teachers, coaches and classmates to make sure they’re getting the best learning experience.”
According to school board members, majority of teachers agree. Some have told district leaders there are willing to teach in-person classes if they're vaccinated. So far, 80% of them have committed to getting the vaccine. Based on the timeline included in the district’s return to school plan, the majority of teachers who want the shot should be vaccinated. Those opting to continue teaching remotely because of medical reason will have to provide doctor-approved documentation.
“Many of them are excited to be able to come back,’ said Kathy McVey, Executive Director of Human Resources.
The district’s plan
Starting March 15, Kindergarten through second-grade students and those with disabilities will return to school five days a week. However, many of them may not have the same teacher they've had this school year because of staff being split between the two learning styles.
“The only other option was to not touch the teachers in the school and to let them all stay in-person and then all of the remote students go to more of an asynchronous kind of approach,” said Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent.
Older students opting for in-person learning will start March 22.
Middle school students who stay remote will only have two classes focused on math and English. Those classes will be taught in real-time by a teacher. Meanwhile, everything else will be self-guided, which could leave students on their own with the help of mentors and check-ins.
High school students learning virtually will not have any live classes.
“They'll actually be meeting with the student saying how are doing in that science class? Let's talk through where are you getting stuck? What kind of support do you need?”