Proctor students march in protest to distance learning model

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: October 19, 2020 05:15 PM

Distance learning has been the new norm for students during COVID-19. While it has worked for some students, others are struggling and say they want to go back to school like Proctor High School students. They organized a march Monday to bring awareness of the challenges with their current distance learning model.

"Distance learning one hour a week learning through a screen everyday I feel like it's doing a lot more harm than good to a lot of students," said Jayden Shaw, a 12th grader at Proctor High School.

Proctor students and parents took to the streets and marched in protest of their distance learning model. Starting at Bayview Elementary and marching to Proctor High School. There was a police escort making sure they were safe as they marched.

"I feel like some students, especially special needs students, we need to be catering to their learning as well. You can't expect every single student to learn this way," said Shaw.

"On every level it's chaos. It's hard to maintain a structure and a calm, peaceful environment, on the students end and on the parents end," said Tiffany Shaw, a parent of a Proctor student.

Families at the march said this learning model isn't a "one shoe fits all" situation. They want more options for students and students want more time with their teachers, saying they only get one hour per week with them.Students said this is affecting their quality of education and mental health.

"We've said for so long about minimizing screen time but here we are now we're enforcing more screen time and it's not adequate," said Tiffany Shaw.

"We would give anything to go back to school. We took it for granted so much when we were in there. Teenagers are supposed to be social and in a social environment and we're just being locked in a room all day looking through a screen, trying to teach ourselves. The teachers they're doing a great job but it's just really hard because we're having to be so independent," said Jayden Shaw.

"We'd either have like to have the ability to set up in person workdays with our teacher or we'd like to go to hybrid because that is what we were originally promised at the beginning of school year," said Sibley Dunbar, a 12th grader at Proctor High School and organizer of the march.

Proctor staff did express they want to bring students back as soon as possible and spoke with families about this at the march.

"Thank you for having your voice be heard it's important to hear from you," Tim Rohweder, the principal of Proctor High School, said to the group of students.

"We have amazing teachers, we have great staff here. We miss them we want more time with them," Dunbar said to Rohweder.

"Sometimes we don't forget about the students but at the same time we look at things from a legal aspect or a department of health aspect of things and we sometimes lose sight of how it is affecting our students on a day to day basis," said Rohweder.

For now, staff say hybrid learning won't be possible until infection rates begin to decline to allowable levels to have students in a hybrid model but they are looking at other options for now so students can have more time with their teachers.

"Within the the distance learning model we're looking at the change to the bell schedule so that they do have more time with their teachers and then obviously if we can get kids back to hybrid it will be more of a full day of learning instead of just that morning time," said Rohweder.

If infection rates do go down staff said they plan to change to a hybrid learning model for secondary students as soon as early November.

"This is a reminder to us to keep the students first, to be student centered as we're making decisions," said Rohweder.

"We haven't felt heard in a long time but today we felt heard. Maybe we had to speak up a little louder," said Dunbar.

In the Proctor superintendent newsletter from Oct. 15, infection rates reported for Proctor, Hermantown, and Duluth Schools were above the 30 threshold for Duluth area schools. The infection rate in number of cases per 10,000 that week was 35.19 for the Proctor, Hermantown, and Duluth schools.

The above 30 threshold means it is recommended for secondary students to do distance learning and hybrid for elementary. The infection rate threshold has to be below thirty in order for all hybrid learning to be considered for all students.

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

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