Salt Lake City School District students rally in hopes for in-person learning to resume

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – The Salt Lake City School District is the only district in the state to continue with all online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the district shows a high number of poor grades, and some students now say they want the option to learn in-person rather than online.

Students of all ages – and some parents – rallied in front of East High School Monday afternoon in hopes district officials will consider allowing students back into the classroom.  

“I’m here because I’m so tired of doing online school,” said Clayton Middle School student Katherine Snow. “It is so depressing to wake up every morning and know you don’t get to go to school and see all your friends.”

“I feel like my education is impacted and is not as well affected as it would be in person,” said another student Ashley Black.

Students told ABC4 News a number of failing grades prove to them that online learning isn’t what’s best for them.

“It’s important to stay safe during these times and it’s really crazy, but it’s just so hard to learn at home and you know, failing grades have shot up,” said East High School senior William Freedman.

District data suggests more than 3,000 students in the district’s middle and high schools had one or more F’s or incompletes at the end of term one.  

“Most kids are failing, and some people don’t have opportunities as good as others,” said student Grace Plumb.

In the district’s middle schools, the average assignment completion rate appears to be highest at Hillside Middle School (78.08%) and lowest at Glendale Middle School (54.60%).

Term one’s average assignment completion rate in the district’s high schools was highest at Highland High School (73.08%) and lowest at East High School (64.28%).

Advocating for schools to reopen in-person learning, SLCSD parent Emily Bell McCormick said – like students – parents want their children to have the option, as some children are struggling.

“And this is something we as parents worried about from the beginning,” she said. “And I think now that we’re this far into it, we can really see our students’ fatigue. We’re seeing them lose motivation, not want to get out of bed.”

To not have an option, McCormick said it’s overwhelming and frustrating.

“We want to protect our teachers, we want them to be safe, we want to protect our students,” she said. “We’re in a pandemic. It’s a time where we’re not going to have perfection, but it’s a time where we’re seeing other schools do this and in an effective manner keep teachers safe, and ebb and flow.”

McCormick hopes the district will look at how other schools are handling education during the pandemic and resume in-person learning.

In regard to the rally, Interim Superintendent Larry Madden sent a statement to ABC4 News:

“The district has always been supportive of students engaging in their communities and safely exercising their First Amendment rights. Today’s student rallies are no exception. We welcome student voices – especially on issues that directly impact them – and encourage our students to continue to speak out on issues that are important to them.” 

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