BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A group of Los Alamos County parents is pushing for the return to in-person education for Los Alamos Public Schools because they feel the current model of remote learning is not working for many children and families. A protest is planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday outside the school district offices on Trinity Drive.
“The challenges and struggles we are facing are causing numerous tertiary social, emotional and developmental issues,” Cresta Bateman, one of the organizers told the Los Alamos Reporter Sunday morning. She and her husband, Ben, have four elementary-aged children.
The school board late Saturday amended its agenda for Tuesday’s virtual meeting to include a reviews of options for elementary school remote or hybrid learning due to COVID conditions. Bateman said with the possibility that the board will vote to further delay the return to in-person school, she and others feel a call to action.
“Our emails and calls to the school board have been ignored and dismissed. We want to turn the topic of conversation away from fear, politics and what-ifs to what really matters: our children, their needs, and their education,” she said. “Those that fear returning to school have options with online schooling and homeschooling. Those of us that advocate for in-person learning lack options, and our voices are not being heard by our elected school board members.”
Bateman said the in-person small groups currently attending LAPS have shown that kids do follow the safety guidelines and that school can be conducted safely in person.
“States all over the Country are back in school full time with very low transmission rates. A recent newspaper article warned of transmission rates increasing based on eight teachers across the entire state with COVID. However, zero transmission of covid cannot be our goal as it is not practical,” she said.
Bateman believes COVID-19 is not going anywhere for a long time.
“We must learn how to thrive in this new landscape. Thriving for us means setting our children up for the future. It means teaching our kids to follow COVID-safe guidelines, but not to hide in fear. We must thrive, and the only way we can is if we come together and solve this with common sense, fact based and data driven solutions. Delaying our children’s education again is not the answer,” she said.
The time is right to get our children back in school maximizing their potential to learn. We must do hybrid as a means to get back to full time in-person school. Our county has extremely low cases (37 total cases), and together we can continue to keep cases low while returning to in-person school. Together we can figure out how to do this because our children’s future is far too vital.
Kyle Gardner, who has three elementary-aged children, said he and his wife are fed up with the at-home virtual learning.
“We find it supremely frustrating and entirely ineffective. We are worried our children will fall behind in their education if a return to normalcy is not imminent,” Gardner said.
He said the current approach is unsustainable and attempts by LAPS to continue any longer are unacceptable.
“This debacle is the best argument for home-schooling I have ever seen. Parents will begin to pull their children out of public school en masse very soon,” Gardner said.
Joyce Brinton Anderson said Sunday that in the six weeks since the school board decided to move the hybrid option to Oct. 19, her children have plunged into crisis with remote schooling. She has now withdrawn one of her students to tutor him at home.
“Now, I am spending most of my days teaching my children in our home, and considerable time and money to do the job LAPS is not doing for my children – which makes me angry! And yes, my 4 year old is still plopped in front of the TV most of the day because I’m tutoring her brothers, and still trying to run our household,” she said. “I feel fortunate that we have been able to finally figure out a situation that works for our family. But I know from talking with friends and other parents in the community that most families are not in a good situation, and we are rapidly destroying our children.”
Brinton Anderson said she has written to school board members to ask them to stay on track for Oct. 19.
“LAPS has done everything the Public Education Department, the Department of Health and the governor have asked and required. There is no reason at this point to keep kids out of school,” she said. “I want to give our great LAPS teachers the benefit of the doubt, but when I read the letter the teacher’s union sent to the board, any sympathy that I had for them, vanished. If the teachers don’t want to go back to in person teaching, perhaps they need to find new employment. They need to do their jobs.”
Meanwhile, LAPS teachers have contacted the Los Alamos Reporter Sunday to voice concern about the wording of a survey they received this weekend which asks:
Please choose the answer that best reflects your choice for transitioning from Remote Learning with small groups to a Hybrid Learning Model on Monday, Oct. 19.
- I will return to in-person instruction in a hybrid model as planned
- I prefer to continue teaching remotely as we are now
Staff feel that “I will return” and “I prefer to return” are not the same.
Public comments for the meeting may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See previous story on board agenda: /https://losalamosreporter.com/2020/10/10/school-board-agenda-amended-to-include-review-of-options-for-elementary-school-remote-or-hybrid-learning-due-to-covid-conditions/