Mixed Reviews on Phased-in Learning at Gibraltar

During the open-comment portion of Monday’s Gibraltar School Board meeting, some residents expressed aggravation at the slow phase-in of in-person learning. 

Parent Lauren Schar said she had been looking forward to sending her children back to school when the second semester began next week, but she would not want to send them to school to sit at a computer and watch an instructor teaching from home.

“The reason the teachers teach remotely is they either are quarantined or have an underlying condition that requires them to stay home,” board president Stephen Seyfer said.

Superintendent Tina Van Meer said the November phase-in of in-person learning for kindergarten, first and second grades went well, as did the phase-in of attendance by grades 3-5. Administrators are discussing going to five-day attendance for grades 3-5 as soon as it’s feasible.

Van Meer said she knew teachers had been working more than 40 hours a week, due in part to technological training for simultaneous online and in-classroom teaching. 

“We need to give our teachers a break because they’re going to burn out,” she said.

Seyfer said the secondary-school phase-in has not gone altogether smoothly, mentioning that some students thrive while learning from home, but others tend to turn off the computer, stop paying attention or walk away. 

Van Meer said that contact tracing of students at the upper grade levels has been difficult because older students can have more freedom and contact with peers and, thus, more opportunities for exposure to COVID-19.

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