DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Kristi Gage is frustrated with the method of in-person instruction at Henderson Middle School in DeKalb County.
She's said it's not at all what her seventh-grade son was expecting when the school district reopened a few weeks ago for students longing for face-to-face learning.
"I'm really heartbroken for these children. After the first day, my son didn't want to go back. He said it was just like being at home. The interaction was the same. Any questions they had, they had to go through their Chromebook. They couldn't raise their hand because there was no teacher interaction," said Gage. "I reached out to the principal first and she told me that's what they were instructed to do."
Gage said an emailed response to her inquiry from DeKalb Area Superintendent Trent Arnold went a step further. In it, Arnold apologized for Gage's frustration and disappointment and said, in part," In order for both in-person and virtual students to participate and be fully engaged, the use of electronic devices must be utilized for all students." Gage said she and other parents wish their students could raise their hands and ask questions directly when they are in class at the LaVista Road school.
"Since the CDC has now recommended three feet is sufficient, I believe they should be able to have more students in the classroom and that would help the teachers who want to teach face to face be more successful. I feel like the teacher's hands are tied and they're just trying to do the best they can," said Gage, who pulled her fifth-grade daughter from a DeKalb County elementary school last Fall because of the emotional stress of virtual learning.
The school district responded to FOX 5's inquiry with a statement saying in part, "The purpose is not to replicate the traditional classroom experience. Instead, think about the lessons teachers have taught in a traditional classroom setting and reimagine how they can adapt them to innovate teaching, The goal is not to replicate the traditional classroom experience. Instead, think about the lessons teachers have taught in a traditional classroom setting and reimagine how the can adapt them to innovate teaching and learning experiences for students in a concurrent instructional setting. With some experimentation, imagination, and research-based strategies, teachers and can include elements in their lessons that will help students achieve identified learning outcomes."
Gage said she isn't sure how she'll proceed as her son continues to attend in-person and virtual learning on the days outlined by the school district.
"We'll just take it day by day, or week by week, and see how it goes," she said.
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