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School district survey finds in-person learning top positive of last school year

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | August 4, 2021 1:00 AM

A survey of Whitefish School District parents and guardians regarding the 2020-21 school year found that in-person learning for students was the top positive, while many said remote learning was the most significant challenge.

The school district this spring sent out a survey to parents and guardians of students in the district to gain feedback on their experience during the school year, which involved many transitional periods as the district used remote and in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The feedback suggested that some of the challenges revolved around remote learning and student engagement in learning, so that’s a really important thing for us to focus in on,” Superintendent Dave Means told the school board in a recent meeting.

There were 305 parents and guardians who responded to the survey.

The survey asked questions that would help the district to see different perspectives on the approach the district took by implementing the hybrid in-person and online learning model to start the year and then the different adjustments that were made throughout the school year.

One question looked at the most significant challenges that families and students in the district experienced while learning during the pandemic. The challenge that was most concerning for families was remote learning and then issues with social relationships was a close second. Concerns with student engagement in learning was the third-highest answer on the survey.

Another question asked what some of the most positive learning experiences students and families had last year. The overwhelming response was that in-person learning for students was the most positive experience of the year. Social relationships and academic achievement also received a higher number of votes for positives.

Additional comments provided by families included 38 respondents thanking the school district for its efforts regarding reopening schools during the pandemic, several also emphasized that they would not like to see masks implemented this fall, and a handful appreciated the Opportunity Wednesdays which provided time in the week for students to get caught up or participate in enrichment activities.

Numerous respondents also described that remote learning was not helpful and their children did not experience success from it. And a handful of parents and guardians were frustrated with the engagement level of students and staff with the hybrid learning model.

“That’s great information for us to look at and consider as we look to next year; our planning efforts to try to provide support to students both academically and social-emotional support, and just our overall learning program for next year,” Means said.