Russellville School Board eliminates virtual learning option, another still available

Local News

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Teachers across the state are struggling to navigate both classroom and virtual learning. They say it’s taking more time, resources, and taking away from the lesson plans. Because of this, the Russellville School Board voted to eliminate that kind of virtual option for kindergarten through eighth grade.

This decision impacts more than 1500 students and their parents. Caliese Cain is one of those parents who now have to decide whether to enroll their kids in a different virtual option or risk sending them back through those doors.

“They set some of these kids up to fail and my son will be one of them,” Cain said.

When Cain was weighing her kid’s options for learning this year, she had multiple things to consider because one of her sons has asthma and her other son is ADD.

“Just constant change is not suitable for him,” Cain said.

She had three choices. Option A is in the classroom. Option B is the same classes and same teachers just virtual. Option C is another virtual program called Lincoln Learning offered by the state. She chose option B.

“They get to see the teachers they get to see the classes. They are uploading video it’s really just every day it’s gotten better,” Cain said.

Cain says there have been issues but this was the most stable choice for her kids.

“We chose this thinking it was going to be long-term and give my child the consistency that I wanted and now here we are and it’s not,” Cain said.

Tuesday the Russellville School Board voted to end this learning option at the end of the first nine weeks.

“I’ve received a lot of phone calls from parents who are not happy,” Russellville Superintendent Dr. Mark Gotcher said.

Dr. Gotcher said teachers were struggling to teach both in the classroom and online.

“Teachers are stressed, teachers are exhausted. I’ve heard many reports of teachers staying up late at night after they put their kids to bed just to be able to prepare for the next couple of days.” Gotcher said.

Now he said this decision will allow teachers to focus solely on their in-classroom kids and Lincoln Learning is still available for those who can’t risk going back to school.

“Students can watch videos, it’s self-guided so they can move along at their own pace,” Gotcher said.

Cain said neither one of those is a good option because her kids need as close to the classroom experience as possible and this change is going to put them behind.

“These next nine weeks for him will probably be a fail,” Cain said.

As far as high school students all three options are still available but Dr. Gotcher said the board will make a decision at the end of the semester.

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