With the pandemic-affected 2020-2021 school year in the rearview mirror, education leaders are beginning to consider what the next school year will look like. Will in-person classes resume, will mask mandates be lifted, will online schooling survive?
EdNews met with two parents and surveyed others to ask what they’d like in the next school year.
West Ada parents Katie Rhodenbaugh and Abbey Erquiaga mostly want their children back in school with friends, back in front of a teacher and back into a regular routine.
Erquiaga has two daughters, a kindergartener and a third grader, and said that in-person education is the best option for her children’s attention spans. She recognized during the pandemic, and on-line learning for younger children, that teachers needed to make sure every minute in the classroom was productive for students. That’s a trait that should continue, she said.
“It really forced teachers to be more flexible and more impactful in their lessons,” Erquiaga said. “They really had to pack their punches.”
Rhodenbaugh said that an increased use of technology in the classroom is a good thing for education. Rhodenbaugh said technology in the classroom has been an ancillary piece for some time, but was pushed to the forefront when classes were moved to a virtual format. Rhodenbaugh has three boys, one first grader, one fifth grader and one seventh grader, in West Ada.
Rhodenbaugh wants her kids back in school, in large part for social reasons. Her boys miss their friends.
“Recess is a huge component for them,” Rhodenbaugh said.
EdNews also received submitted responses from Treasure Valley parents regarding elements of education they would like to see more of, post pandemic.
Angela Voll, a West Ada parent with a daughter at Lake Hazel Middle, said she prefers the remote Mondays to other schedule changes – like late start Wednesdays – saying they are more convenient for parents and give teachers more time for lesson planning and professional development.
Communication from school districts was also a topic brought up by parents. Stephanie Edwards, who has three students in Nampa’s Ronald Reagan Elementary, said the weekly update from the school district has been helpful. Edwards said she enjoys getting updates on what the students are doing in school and what’s happening in the district.
Rhodenbaugh said there have been times where the communication from West Ada has been overwhelming, since she was receiving emails from the district, the school and several teachers. But as the school year has gone on, Rhodenbaugh said communication has reached a “happy medium.”
Lisa Barthlome, whose kids go to Pocatello’s Century High, and Michele Dooley, with students in West Ada’s Pepperidge Elementary and Lewis & Clark Middle, both said they liked having school computers the children can bring home.
Erquiaga disagreed, saying that having computers means students are spending their down time playing games or watching videos.
“I hate it,” Erquiaga said. “I prefer having paper sheets for them to work on.”