Mt. Pleasant parents split on school return

School board hears options under consideration for student learning

MT. PLEASANT — Parents of the Mt. Pleasant Community School District are split on how comfortable they are sending their children back to school, according to a recent parent survey.

The Mt. Pleasant Community School District school board received an overview of instruction related to the Return to Learn plan as well as data from a recent parent survey the district conducted at its regular board meeting on Monday.

District Superintendent John Henriksen reviewed parent responses to a survey about the district’s Return to Learn plan that closed the previous Friday. The district received almost 500 responses and asked questions about internet access, learning challenges during remote learning as well as how comfortable parents felt about sending kids back to school.

Henriksen noted responses continue to show about 80 to 85 percent of families have access to high-speed internet that supports video screening. The survey found the two largest challenges to student learning included parents working outside of the home during the day (50.1 percent) and difficulty motivating students (40.6 percent).

Board President Jennifer Crull said part of the challenge of motivating students to engage in remote learning was the lack of consequences, which would change if remote learning were required.

In the survey, parents were asked to rate, on a scale of one to five, how comfortable they felt sending their kids back to school in light of mitigation strategies presented with Return to Learn plans. 35.3 percent of parents said they were feeling comfortable (five) with sending their child back. About 20 percent of parents rated their comfort level at a four and another 20 percent stood in the middle with a three rating. About 25 percent revealed they were not as comfortable (one and two).

Henriksen said the data showed the district would continue to have to look at solutions if the district chooses to go with the remote learning model.

“Connectivity is an issue,” he said.

Director of Instruction Kathleen Gavin explained there will be “an underlying online experience for all students, K-12.”

The online curriculum will serve students who are in “fragile health” and are not yet able to return to school in the fall, as well as be a baseline for the hybrid and remote learning instructional models. The online curriculum would be useful in the situation that students need to quarantine or isolate for any length of time.

Gavin said middle and high school students are already using laptops and have experience using and navigating online learning platforms whereas kindergarten through fifth grade students do not. For the younger students, the district plans to assign one teacher per grade level “who will be overseeing and working” to integrate the four major curricular areas to a learning management system.

“Right now we’re starting with one teacher because that is what makes sense for consistency. That is the easiest way to be flexible,” Gavin said.