When it comes to Arlington Public Schools’ rollout of its 2021-2022 e-learning option, September ended as it started – with Superintendent Francisco Durán and school board members committed to both in damage control and in a mea culpa to visit.
Despite promises made to school board members and the community in early September that the calamitous deployment of e-learning would be brought under control, “we are not yet where we need to be,” Durán admitted to school board members on September 30.
He apologized “for the experience that many of our students had”. “I understand the frustration and disappointment,” said Durán. “They didn’t get what they should have had in terms of expected teaching experience. I promise to make things right. “
Families of only around 3% of the student body have opted to enroll in the program online this school year, but this group includes many students with specific health or education concerns. “They and their parents trusted us,” said Durán.
On the bright side, the school system hired staff to supplement the ranks of the online option, he said, and some families were not reporting any significant issues.
The superintendent promised a full briefing to school board members on October 14. When that day comes, Durán and the staff should be prepared with “a concrete plan to ensure that any time that may have been wasted at the start of the school year is done creatively,” said Cristina Diaz-Torres, Member of the Board of Directors. (Durán said that would indeed be part of the presentation.)
The collapse had a number of root causes, but left many in the community scratching their heads as it wasn’t as if the school district was starting from scratch at the end of August to put in operates an online learning program. Most of the county’s public school students had been educated this way for much of the previous 18 months, before the school system reverted to five-day in-person instruction this fall.
School board member Monique O’Grady, who serves as the board liaison for the e-learning initiative until her term expires on Dec. 31, acknowledged that “we have work to do” to fix things.
“We’re trying to make these improvements,” O’Grady said, but added that “I don’t want to lose the fact that we have dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who are in place working with students” in the online program .
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