For One Park City Parent, Keeping Kids at Home for School is About More than Family
Park City School District students return to classes on Aug. 20, and uncertainty about the future is about the only certainty according to one parent whose children are registered to begin eighth grade at Treasure Mountain Junior High and twelfth grade at Park City High School.
School districts across the state were required to submit a back-to-school plan to Gov. Gary Herbert by Aug. 1. As KPCW has reported, Park City School District is offering two options for students as they register for classes this year. They include in-person classes and online learning.
Bari Nann Rothchild has two children in the school district. She says by choosing the online learning option for her eighth and twelfth graders, it gives the whole system a better shot at working.
“For our family, and I know this doesn't work for every family and everybody's got to make this decision the way it works best for them, but for our family, we had factors that informed our decision for our personal health but we also felt like since we could kind of arrange our lives around it we felt like it would be better if there were fewer people in the buildings if we could contribute to that,” she said.
Both of Rothchild’s kids are on block schedules, which means they take four classes every other day. She’s planning for her eighth grader to take three core classes through Utah Students Connect, an Instructure-provided coursework service endorsed by the state government.
“It will provide him with a certain amount of consistency and hopefully give the teachers in those subjects who are teaching at Treasure one fewer online kid to try to keep track of,” she said. “And for him, one less teacher to try to track down in a specific way. And I think the teachers at Treasure are terrific.”
Rothchild says the counselor at Treasure Mountain Junior High School has been flexible and helpful. Her son has had seven years of French and his ongoing dual-language immersion program will not work as well online.
Rothchild says a hybrid option mixing virtual and in-person learning for her children is a possibility. She believes parents and teachers can be resourceful and perhaps this experience will shed light on new and creative learning methods.
“But in my mind’s eye, he’s downloading assignments from Canvas, we're reviewing them,” she said. “If we have questions maybe we're emailing the teacher or maybe we're checking with a friend in the class. And if, you know, there's a reason to get together with the teacher, we figure out a safe way to do it and we do it.”
Rothchild says her senior’s classes also aren’t conducive to online learning.
“My senior has classes he's been waiting to take with specific teachers since he was a freshman,” she said. “So, he's really excited about his schedule and there's some APs, there are some cool electives, there's stuff that you really can't get through an online provider. And at least with one of his electives, I've already spoken with one of his teachers and she put together some plans to be able to incorporate students who are learning from home with students who are learning in the classroom in some pretty creative ways.”
Rothchild says while she is choosing to do the online learning, she recognizes it may not be viable for many families.
“I’m not a teacher; I admire teachers, I respect teachers and I believe in teachers,” she said. “I believe that every teacher knows their way of doing things the best and will find a way to do it in a way that is adequate, at least. I can't stress enough how much I know this is all subject to change.”
Rothchild watches Gov. Herbert’s updates every Thursday and realizes the guidelines are changing often with new information about the pandemic. She acknowledges that schools may have to close at some point before COVID-19 is under control.
“I can’t say enough about how supportive and thoughtful the counselors at both of my kid’s schools have been,” she said. “I can't say enough about how I want to support our teachers. I want to keep them and their family safe. I want to keep other students and their family safe.”