Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Remote learning option denied

The Addison Central School District (ACSD) and the Agency of Education (AOE) need a better plan to support our students during these times. This was made evidently clear to me when my child was quarantined two different times since the start of school. The support we were offered was, as one school official stated, “less than robust.”

When asked why ACSD did not have a better plan, the answer was “because AOE doesn’t support remote learning.”

Confused, I attempted to call AOE on Sept. 10. Ironically no one is physically at AOE because they are working remotely. Thus, I emailed the Secretary of Education. Here is his response to my email of Sept. 14:

“Remote learning is an option under our existing regulations and something I support. I am a technologist. I started my career in the Canaan, Vt., area where we employed a lot of remote learning out of necessity.

“Last year we enabled whole school/whole grade remote learning out of necessity. We enabled that under the authority of the emergency order. Since no emergency is in place now, we fall back to our existing regulations, which permit remote learning, mostly on an individual basis in conjunction with a student’s Personal Learning Plan or some other accommodations plan. You should speak with your school about this option.”

With this information I reached to people of ACSD school board and received the following response:

“… remote learning of a whole school/whole class is not allowed under the current conditions without a state of emergency, so we are working to support students on the mostly individual basis …”

Yet the secretary stated, “Remote learning is an option under our existing regulations and something I support.” And there are schools around the state that did have a remote option. On Sept. 17, 2021, Derby School announced they were going remote.

The other issue is that any student who is under quarantine is being marked absent. I was told that these are “excused absences to provide data to the state and federal governments as to how COVID is impacting the schools.”

This back and forth between ACSD and AOE of placing blame on each other for this utter failure to be prepared for the reality that COVID is here, and quarantining will be a part of that has to stop. Our children’s educational, social and mental wellbeing is at stake.

Other schools are showing that they are able to implement effective COVID contingency plans to support students who are quarantined. There is no excuse why ACSD cannot as well.

Ray Mason

Shoreham

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