WAYNESVILLE, Mo.– Students and parents in Waynesville are upset with how the R-6 school district has handled online learning.
Sophomore Mallory Echelberry organized a demonstration at Waynesville High School.
Mallory Echelberry, Organized Waynesville Demonstration, said, “We had over 30 cars, close to about 50 people and we showed up, and we were loud and wanted to make ourselves heard because we’ve tried for multiple weeks and nobody heard us. We were letting them know we will be heard whether they like it or not.”
For those who couldn’t or didn’t want to attend, Sophomore Johnathan Goble created an online petition.
Johnathan Goble, a Sophomore Student at Waynesville High School, said, “It’s made a big change in how I work. I’m not used to doing homework from my classes – they didn’t assign much when we had normal classes, but now since it’s all home-based, I’m having to adjust to getting all my work in my room.”
Mallory and Johnathan say the district is being too hard on its students. They feel there’s too much homework, and their grades are suffering because of that.
Goble said, “I have one friend that’s in one of my classes who was a straight-A student, but now she’s struggling. She has all Ds and Cs. She’s had trouble sleeping and just had a panic attack, which she hasn’t had in years, because of the stresses of having to do all the work at home and manage to help her family.”
Waynesville R-6 Superintendent Brian Henry says students and parents have a right to express their opinion but, he wants to clarify that there are accommodations for students whose grades are dropping or those who can’t focus on school at home.
Henry says, “If you’re engaging, and you’re struggling and the format’s very difficult for you, then we have kind of an engagement and effort rubric that if you put in forth the effort, you can pass your courses. We even built in a component to students whether it’s the virus crisis, or family moving or things like that, we’ll let you carry an incomplete for an entire semester to get the work made up.”
Q &A from Waynesville School District:
Q. Why is our virtual learning format different from other districts around us?
A. The Waynesville R-VI School District maintains high expectations for its students, and while this is not always the easiest path, it is the most beneficial for the long-term success of our students. Virtual learning will look different in each district based on the capacity the district has to support virtual learning, which includes resources, expertise, and support. We are fortunate in our district to have excellent teachers, outstanding resources, and tremendous support; therefore, there is no need to lower our expectations.
Q. Why does my student have so much work?
A. There are no mandated consistent regulations for virtual learning in the 2019-2020 school year published by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; therefore, the format for virtual learning will look different in each district based on the capacity the district has to support virtual learning, which includes resources, expertise, and support. The Department did distribute tips and information for virtual learning; however, these are not rules, and it clearly states on the front page of the March 24, 2020, publication that information was released for resource purposes and would not meet every district’s needs. We are fortunate in our district to have excellent teachers, outstanding resources, and tremendous support; therefore, there is no need to lower our expectations.
In the traditional format, students are expected to be at school for approximately 7 hours, and, at the secondary level, should have approximately an hour of homework each evening, creating a total of 8 hours of student engagement during a traditional daily format. In the virtual environment, our expectation is that students will spend approximately 4 hours daily engaged in virtual learning. If your elementary student is spending more than 4 hours engaged in online learning daily, we encourage you to contact your child’s elementary teachers. Students at the secondary level (grades 6-12) are expected to have greater responsibility for their learning. Older students are expected to complete their assignments and interact with teachers to address specific learning concerns during the hours of 8-12 p.m. to discuss any questions or concerns regarding assignments. Parents may call whenever they have questions, but we do encourage your secondary students to communicate with their teacher first. If your secondary student is regularly spending more than 4 hours daily engaged in virtual learning, your student should request additional support.
Q. Why not offer a limited curriculum to students?
A. Our state has the expectation that we will continue to educate children through this crisis, and while some districts do not have the resources or access to these capabilities, our district does have the tools to implement virtual learning. Students need engagement with their teachers during these times as a means of education and social-emotional wellness. In addition, many students want to be engaged in their elective courses. Eliminating access to elective and encore classes could diminish the number of students engaging in virtual learning, and we consider our elective/encore courses an important part of a well-rounded educational experience.
Q. I thought that state assessments were canceled, so why is my student taking the USA Test Prep?
A. State MAP and EOCs have been canceled, but it is important that we know the level at which our students are performing, especially during the virtual learning process, so that we can make adjustments to help our students. USA Test Prep is a tool that helps gauge whether students are making progress toward achieving proficiency on learning the most important skills and knowledge in each content area – known as priority standards. Priority standards are the skills or necessary information needed to be successful at the next grade level. In addition, USA Test Prep is only the software used to deploy the assessment. Our instructional coaches write the questions for the assessments. The software does certain lessons tied to particular standards, which may be used at teacher discretion.
Q. Why are we holding students accountable for their learning in the virtual environment?
A. Students will go back to school at some point in the future, or progress to colleges, jobs, and careers. Part of our responsibility is to ensure, to the best of our ability, that our students are proficient in all required standards and prepared to be successful at the next grade level or in life. We also understand that some students may struggle in the virtual environment, so we have created new guidelines for accountability that focus on effort and participation. All a student needs to do is login, participate, and submit assignments to the best of their ability and we will work with your student to ensure successful course completion.