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Parents voice concerns over quality of distance learning as more students return to in-person

Online learning
Posted at 3:40 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 19:25:39-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The Scottsdale Unified School District is one of several districts welcoming more students and teachers back to the classroom Monday morning.

However, as in-person learning ramps up, some families staying online say the quality of their child's education is going down.

"There does not appear to be equity in this decision, there's a clear focus on the in-person," said Gavin Cain.

Gavin and his wife, Lauren, are keeping their first and second-grade daughters enrolled in the district's Enhanced Distance Learning option, or EDL. Gavin has a lung issue from his time in the Marine Corps and is battling cancer in his right eye, making him particularly at risk. He says EDL has been a good experience, until now. His younger daughter was just reassigned to a different teacher and is now learning virtually with students from a different school.

"They've made it clear we're still Cochise kids and all that kind of stuff," said Gavin Cain. "I think, again, just for a first grader you've now been fully removed from your community."

Other parents echoed those same concerns to ABC15, writing their children are also, "being reassigned to different schools all over the district," and saying "specials like art, music, and PE, are being paused."

"They shouldn't have opened for in-person learning when they weren't ready to support both if they can't," said Cain.

On Friday, the Scottsdale Unified Governing Board voted to spend more than $900,000 from their capital IT budget to purchase 800 cameras. The voluntary technology allows teachers to instruct both in-person and distance learning students at the same time.

"What surprised us was the number of teachers who actually wanted the cameras so they could keep their students and this is the solution to that problem," SUSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel said during the meeting. "It's all about trade-offs and being able to do what we can, which is why we've got a lot of options on the table, and we're doing the best that we can in this current environment to meet the needs of as many of our students as we can."