Parent Editorial on Greenville County School Board Meeting 7/14: Appreciation, Hopelessness, and more questions

  • By cvbizz
  • July 15, 2020
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After two and a half hours of listening to this meeting, I came away with a complex blend of appreciation, hopelessness, and more questions than answers. I was probably leaning a little heavier on the hopeless side to be completely honest.

Appreciative of the fact that so many man-hours have gone into the thought and thoroughness of how to do this safely and effectively with every child and staff member in mind. I felt hopeless in the fact that I feel no closer to deciding for my children. More hopelessness and questions at to whether or not the virtual school will run more smoothly than this meeting that often had a horrendous echo, intermittent muting, and dropping of camera feeds.

I know, technology is not a guaranteed thing, we’ve all experienced glitches, but if this is representative of what you are selling me on, I am not convinced this is the best route yet either. There is hopelessness in the ability to be in this moment united and in this “all together” for our children when a board member decides to attack parents interested in returning their children to school, as babysitting seeking. I try not to be easily offended, but the way Mrs. Glenda Morrison-Fair, the representative for area 23, adamantly expressed her opinion that parents wanting in-person, school-based education are just using the schools for a “babysitting service” was uncalled.

I do not believe it to be a complete depiction of all parents considering the in-person options, as I for one am still in the decision-making process that does not fall in either of her two groups. After the video has made its rounds tonight it is quite evident by facebook responses that many other parents were not happy with the following comments either. Her comment began with her clarifying her confusion about the two groups of parents she is encountering. One (group) she stated “did not like the e-learning but will like the virtual” option, the other “are saying, mine are going back I don’t care what you have! Because I think they (parents) use us as a babysitting service– that’s a whole lot of their wanting to go back.” Perhaps this is what she is experiencing in her area though? Want to hear the remark for yourself? Cue up the meeting to 1 hour and 28 minutes and take a listen, here.

For me, the social, emotional, and academic well being of my children has been at the forefront of my mind when carefully reviewing all my options, including in-person school-based learning. I realize that when my 10-year-old is crying and begging to go back to “real school”, I must validate his feelings while making the safest choice for his health and well being. I can assure you that I am not looking for a free babysitting service.

School is far from a free service, to begin with. I pay for my child to go to school, to have the necessary items for school, and to give to the classes for special events and parties, so no, you are not a free babysitting service. To equate and reduce us to seeking free babysitting is like saying everyone interested in virtual learning is “lazy and don’t want to leave their houses”—just as absurd as this statement is, so is the one that was made today. I have not yet made a final decision for my children because I want to hear out all the options and hear all the recommendations before making this decision that will impact my children for the rest of the year. I do seem to sense a heavy push for virtual, and more than one member expressed a question as to why we just didn’t make a plan that never had an in-person option, or a graduated in-person option after starting everyone completely virtual or online. Those were good questions, there is no easy answer to this huge, life-altering, Hitchcock reality we seem to be living in. Remember we are all in this together.

I assure you school board members, that the proposed plan, (should I choose to accept it) is not anything that will make my life any easier. It means being flexible on a moment’s notice. It means we are down to a one-income family so my children can continue their education. It means having plans A, B, C, D, E…..with options of every color of the rainbow on random days week to week is my new normal. What you don’t realize it means is that the social connections made for my children are not completely lost, it means some sort of their “normalcy” is returning to them, it means educators who want to, get to keep their classrooms (ok so it may be a different grade or room but they have the option to teach in person), it means bus drivers, cafeteria workers, office staff get to return— I realize it is not without risk, or a huge learning curve for the logistics of it all, but it gives us an option outside of 100% technology-based learning. Hear me when I say eLearning was not as successful as it could have been, and we need other options. I appreciate the virtual option. It does offer a different component to eLearning–it is a valid option, but again it is not necessarily a good fit for all children.

And I know the questions are there. I have heard all of these and more: What about the risk of infection? What about MIS-C? Don’t you care about your children?

To that I say, yes, there is a risk. From what experts have said it is lower for children. From the interview with Dr. LaCroix this week, the transmission is less likely to happen child to child as it is from adult to child. So it will be our teachers and staff we need to make sure we are taking precautions to protect as well. We are seeing amazing recovery and very mild symptoms in children, but yes, there are always exceptions to every rule. I do hurt for those who have lost children, I am not heartless. MIS-C is real, and it is the body’s response to this invader. It is what it was designed to do when harmful viruses are present. Still, the expert is telling us recovery is very high even for those who need a little more support when MIS-C is exhibited. They are reporting complete recoveries. My child can be stricken with Kawasaki disease and there would be nothing else I can do but to seek care just like I will with this, should it happen. I love my children, and I care about their overall well being. My children need more than a computer screen for learning.

Can I offer some suggestions?

  1. If we are all in this together can we ask that school board members not attack and label us for our interest and questions about one option being offered?
  2. Would the school system be able to connect with the platform Blackboard and review the use of modules? This is used by many school systems and higher learning institutions. I believe this could streamline the ease of use for parents and students when eLearning needs to be utilized. It neatly packages all assignments due in a week with resources, offers collab meeting connections, keeps a record of grades, and is able to be put on your mobile phone through an app for convenient access anywhere you go.
  3. Can we hear more from the teachers?—They will be taking on the most risk with this situation. Are they prepared to go back?
  4. Can we all stop thinking as adults in these positions for a moment and think like a child?

More Information Coming Tuesday July 21st at 2pm

GCS Media Relations Director Tim Waller

Parents, be sure to join us for our next Facebook Live event on Tuesday, July 21 at 2 p.m. That’s the day Greenville County Schools plans to announce its FINAL back-to-school plan for 2020-21. We will have special guests in our studio all week to answer your most pressing questions. So get your questions and comments ready. We look forward to seeing you!

Posted by Greenville County Schools on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

My whole world, as a child has stopped…as it resumes it still has taken so much from me and requires irritating things of me like a mask, no hugs, high fives…I am aware now of 6ft and keeping people at a distance, I thrive with personal interaction, stability, and my schedule, I miss belonging to something bigger than a family unit. I am watching the adults around me and it ingrains on my mind and heart, how I should be feeling, and responding to feelings of others. You are teaching me what to fear, what to tolerate, and sadly even what to dislike in my world. On the flip side, I watch you working together to make things right again, respecting each other in words and actions, and I will understand (maybe not today but in time) that what is being decided is to protect me in the end.

This Decision is Not Easy & Their Work is Appreciated

I am not being ungrateful; I am very appreciative of the work and effort being put into this plan from the superintendent to the board members. I believe we are getting caught up in missing the trees for the forest. We are putting families in very difficult situations, not out of enjoyment but because we are living in a very uncharted moment in time. I realize you all as the school system get blasted and roasted over calling school off for potential ice or dismissing with snow flurries, but decisions are multifaceted. We can agree to disagree and still support our children, after all, that is who this is all about, right?

I just want all the information presented to me before I lock into a choice I might regret, for all other needs I will most likely turn to my in-laws or, until then let’s get this thing taken care of as quickly as possible.

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