Letter: The damage is done
On March 22, the Steamboat Springs School Board voted unanimously to continue the notoriously ineffective hybrid model for high school students, which cuts instruction time by 50%, despite the fact that the incidence of D’s and F’s are up by 81% over the past year.
The only data presented at the board meeting was from a district survey where 83% of students and 88% of teachers heavily favored staying in the current model, whereas 65% of parents were comfortable returning full-time. In the administration’s lengthy rationalization, they lamented that students had suffered enough and noted logistical challenges. Several students made the case for not returning, with encouragement from their teachers.
The following data was given to each board member: McKinsey says remote education during COVID-19 resulted in seven to nine months of learning loss. Kids ages 12-17 had a 31% increase in mental health related ER visits; mental health claims for teenagers have doubled; their anxiety is up by 68%, depression by 50% and overdoses up 11%. However, as each board member rendered their “no” vote, they ignored data and the will of parents.
We later asked the superintendent for student performance data. In October 2020, the incidence of D’s and F’s in the high school was up 12%; it shot up to 74% in January and 81% in March. You’d think school and health officials would have seen a red flag in October, sounded an alarm in January and a vote of “yes” to send kids back live would have resulted. How was this data not presented?
There are abundant examples of schools staying open without incident. School board members were offered contacts at open schools and asked to seek best practices that enabled them to stay open in advance of this meeting. No board member took us up on it. Our health officials haven’t discovered the protocols that have ensured safety but avoided unnecessary mass quarantines as they did in Vail schools by November. The agenda was already set.
The damage is done, and we hope the board and administration are hard at work on an aggressive plan to get our kids caught up academically and will publicly assure us in advance that schools will be fully open in the fall. We never got any indication last year that our kids’ instruction time would be cut by 50% for the entire academic year, or we would have made different choices.
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