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Petal parents question school district’s virtual learning option

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 7:43 PM CDT
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Some Petal School District parents are concerned about the districts’ virtual learning opition.

The parents told WDAM they want to remain anonymous, but their concerns need to be front and center when it comes to their virtual learning students.

Parents said they chose virtual learning to protect their kids and their families from COVID-19, but they say they’ve been told by Petal staff that the virtual learning system called “Edgenuity” doesn’t offer the same curriculum as the lessons that will be taught to in-person Petal students.

Petal Superintendent Matt Dillon offered this clarification.

“There’s no difference in the standards that are being presented,” Dillon said. “We have a set of standards that we are required to do for all K-12 students. So, this Edgeniuty program is the Mississippi Department of Education approved; therefore, our teachers have looked through the standards. Now, does that mean on Monday, next Monday, is the person in Edgenuity doing the exact same things as the person in the classroom, maybe, maybe not. It’s just depending on where they are at, but again it is all based on the Mississippi standards, which is what we adhere to and what we teach.”

Parents said that they were told by Petal School District staff that virtual learning could put their child at risk of being behind come the second nine weeks of school. Dillon said that has nothing to do with Edgenuity, that’s up to the students.

“It’s all about the motivation of our students,” Dillon said. “Our students have to perform what is being presented to them whether that be in person or virtually. Some of our students that are going virtually, I feel like they are gonna go ahead on the curriculum and actually potentially be ahead if they so choose because it is very much self-paced.”

The distressed parents said there was no virtual orientation to introduce parents and students to Edgenuity and it’s courses. Dillion said 10% of the school district’s population is virtual learners and principals and administration visited with every parent that was interested in the virtual option, but he said it’s been difficult handling all the parents who signed up for virtual after the July 31 deadline.

“With all the influx of students who have now signed up past the deadline, it’s put a lot of strain on our team as far as getting schedules put in and things of that nature,” Dillon said.

Dillon said he wants parents to know virtual students won’t be left alone. He said the district has a team of virtual learning teachers assigned to help students.

“This team of virtual teachers are going to be checking in to ensure that our students are staying on pace, they are giving a good effort during the day, they are checking attendance that way as well, in addition to giving assistance where ever assistance is needed,” Dillon said.

Dillon said he encourages all parents to reach out to the district with their questions in person or parents can go to petalschool.com for a one-stop shop of information for tradition and virtual students. He says parents can also email info@petalschool.com.

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