CONTINUE HIGH QUALITY VIRTUAL LEARNING AT PHM!

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Dear Dr. Thacker, Dr. Short, and the PHM School Board,

Even in these unprecedented times, it is the essential duty of a school corporation to ensure that every child within that district has equal access to a quality education. As the school year began, we were reassured by PHM's Virtual Learning model and the great thought that went into creating it. It was gratifying to learn how well our elementary, middle, and high school students were engaged in their lessons and were obviously making progress. The synchronous (live) sessions provided much needed structure to school days, helped them to feel as if they were a part of the school community, and made it possible for students to connect and bond with their teachers as well as classmates. We have been grateful to teachers for the effort they put into establishing the model and their love and care in making it functional.

However, we are puzzled and disappointed by the potentially disruptive virtual model that will begin on September 14th and 21st. It has become clear that students attending virtually will be primarily doing asynchronous eLearning. This does not ensure equal access to quality instruction and creates two populations of students. This approach -- by multiple criteria including legalistic ones -- will create differences in the level and quality of education to be provided by one school board. It is intrinsically unjust. Furthermore, it will be a significant step down from what students are being currently offered at home and this is not in-line with the virtual model of synchronous and asynchronous learning originally proposed over the summer and approved by the board.

Dr. Thacker’s email from September 2nd stated that “parents at all grade levels will still have the choice to keep their students 100% Virtual.” At no point have Dr. Thacker or the PHM Board stated that parents who feel their children are safest learning at home during a global pandemic will need to revert to independent eLearning. It appears that PHM expects parents who choose virtual learning to accept a method of learning that PHM has already deemed less effective further highlighting the creation of two populations of students. An important unanswered question is what will be the long term consequences of creating these two populations on the growth and intellectual maturation of students? Why will some children be left with an inferior education? This most assuredly cannot be the case and does not align with PHM's "Triangle of Success."

It is unacceptable that families are being made to choose between safety and high quality education. We demand that students who have to stay home during this pandemic be provided a quality education along the lines of what they have thus far received with the current virtual model.

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