Monroe County parents are still trying to understand how their children are going back to school in the fall after the Monroe County Community School Corporation presented its Re-Entry and Recovery Plan on June 23.
The 96-slide presentation of the plan includes different modes of instruction based on whether the student is in elementary, middle or high school. Parents have until July 20 to make a decision about how their child will return to school.
Micah White has two daughters, one entering seventh grade at Jackson Creek Middle School and the other entering her freshman year at Bloomington High School South. White said the initial release of MCCSC’s plan was very bulky, confusing and overwhelming.
While her middle schooler wants to do online instruction, White said she is still deciding how her high schooler is going to school in the fall. She said her daughter has asthma, and she worries about her having to wear a mask for long periods of time. White said their decision will be made after meeting with their doctor.
“I'm just worried, not only for other kids, but I'm also worried for her,” White said. “Her safety and everything is important.”
Elementary and middle schoolers have two options for going back to school: five days a week in-person or entirely online. High schoolers do not have a five day week in-person option at Bloomington High School North and South. Instead they will have hybrid weeks of half in-person and online. The hybrid week will have in-person instruction on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and online instruction on Tuesday and Thursday. An all online option is also available.
White said this plan is stressful on her and her family. She said online schooling was difficult in the spring when she had to help her daughters with school while also keeping her employees and customers safe at work as a local gas station manager.
“I have enough to worry about with work scheduling,” White said. “Let alone a high schooler that's brand new, walking in the door, having no idea what she's doing.”
Julie Sylvester has a daughter entering her junior year of high school at Bloomington High School South. She said while MCCSC released its plan for the school year, there is still a lot of misinformation circulating about a fully in person option for high schoolers.
While registering her daughter for the next year, Sylvester said there was a five day in-person option with a note saying the school district is collecting interest in the option but it is not a definite mode of instruction yet. She said she chose the hybrid option but if her daughter decides she doesn’t like that mode of instruction after the two week grace period, her only other option is completely online.
Sylvester said she too has worries over how the hybrid high school schedule will affect parents’ work schedules. She said it may be very difficult for parents who work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work days to have to worry about their child getting up on time to log themselves into online school.
“There are a lot of parents out there that their students may not be quite so accountable yet and may struggle in school, even when it was normal,” Sylvester said. “They may have a lot of concerns as to what the hybrid schedule looks like.”
Another issue is the availability of Wi-Fi strong enough to support every device in their house, Sylvester said. With a high school and college student both online in classes this fall, she said she is unsure how reliable their internet connection will be, especially when she too has to work from homefor her job at Kelley Undergraduate Career Services.
MCCSC said it is providing school parking lots with Wi-Fi for students, but Sylvester said it is not always feasible to drive somewhere to attend a class.
She also said it's frightening that her daughter is entering her junior year and has to deal with the many changes caused by COVID-19. On top of the changes, she will have to worry about her class load, college applications and social events like homecoming and prom that she may have to miss out on.
“You're thinking this year how excited you're going to be, driving your car to school for the first time and prom and those kinds of things is what you should be able to be focusing on,” Sylvester said. “But I think that we'll deal with whatever we have to deal with.”