As I scrolled the internet a few weeks ago I came across something that sparked my interest, something going on at the Rath Building in Erie County. A group called WNY Students First had organized a rally promoting their mission of getting kids back in school five days a week. I thought to myself, “Wow, I may not be the only person that seems upset at the current system. I may not be the only parent that has watched my children’s mental health deteriorate; watched them struggle in general to find happiness in today's world; or witnessed those circles under their eyes growing larger and darker.”
I can only speak from my experience at the elementary level, as my three children are 8, 9 and 10. For those that aren’t familiar, hybrid amounts to classes being divided into two groups; one attends in person two days per week and the other on the opposite two days. On the fifth day – Mondays at Lew-Port – something called synchronous learning takes place. That is a fancy word for a couple hours of scheduled live instruction. The time not consumed with live instruction (either in person or screen) consists of visits to many websites to practice math and reading comprehension.
That has been a huge change for my kids, as they hadn’t had “screen time” outside of their work at school, but for a reward on a weekend, occasionally.
I began to wonder if there were other folks in my local district that may share the same frustrations with the hybrid model. After some searching on Facebook, I came across a group of likeminded Lew-Port parents heading up a group called “#Time4Five”. I sought out the leaders of the group and found out what I could do to help.
We co-wrote a letter to the School Board president and superintendent letting them know we were trying to find a way to get the kids back in school. They expressed their gratitude and helped us understand why we are no farther ahead now than we were in September.
It became clear to us that the school districts’ hands are tied due to capacity concerns related to the current New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Department of Education (NYSED) requirements.
Last week, some of us attended a Zoom call put on by a HoganWillig, spearheaded by a similar group from Grand Island Central Schools, seeking a path forward, a path back to five days of in-person learning. This is the same firm that has successfully challenged NYSDOH related to salons, restaurants and the like.
After the Zoom call, we reconvened as a group, still adamant to remain an ally to the district. We decided the first logical step is to seek the opinion of the community at large in a pulse survey to gauge your feelings related to the current model – how it may be impacting your children and family, and how the taxpayer feels about the additional expenses related to the current environment.
With that in mind, we decided it would be best to share the survey through our Facebook group page (#Time4Five) to convince the governor there's a smarter way, as well as here with you.
We appreciate everyone’s open and honest feedback. We hope to take the data we gather and utilize it to help catalyze change for the better for the youth of our district.
For those that would like to support this movement, please seek us out, or contact our state representatives to share your thoughts.
Of course, we understand that there will remain a need for remote learning for those that believe it to be best for their individual situation. Most importantly, we believe the best interests of the kids should be at the heart of any solution and that they are best served if we move forward as an entire district together.
Access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LBN8929.
Thank you for listening