WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — As the education system in Utah navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, the first month of online learning has been a challenge for some students and parents.
“I just don’t like the experience,” said 8th grade student Rohan Kahkural. “The way I am able to encounter my teachers, talk to them -- it’s kind of hard getting to know them. I have no connection with my teachers. I just see their face, but I don’t know who they are really.”
Rohan began the year doing online learning at his school. His sister is also learning from home.
“Most kids say they don’t want to learn online because they learn from real school and I say that’s really true,” Parish Kahkural said. The 4th grade student feels her education isn’t progressing like it was prior to the onset of the pandemic.
“You learn a lot more from real school,” she added.
Parents are also facing new challenges.
“It’s a roller coaster. We never know what’s going to happen,” said Chalise Walsh, who has two young children going to class in-person to start the school year.
Even though her children are in a physical, classroom setting, she feels their education isn’t as strong.
“I don’t think they are learning as much because there is so much going on at school where they are too focused on who’s wearing a mask, keeping things clean, and if someone has any symptom you automatically have to come home,” Walsh said.
As cases of COVID-19 rise in the state of Utah, many families are faced with the threat of a jarring transition from in-person to distance learning.
That move was made by the Granite School District, where Olympus High School and Granger High School will spend the next two weeks learning at home, online because each campus community recorded 15 active cases of COVID-19.
“It’s not something we are excited about,” said Ben Horsley, a spokesperson for Granit School District. “We expected we would have this type of dismissal and we expect to have more dismissals.”
Horsley said the district will follow the recommendations set by the county health department to temporarily move to distance learning if a school hits the 15-case threshold.
This is being done to protect students, teachers, families and the entire community from a larger outbreak.
“If you take those individual 10 kids and put them in 8 classes over a school day, that’s 80 classes. Over a 2-day period, that means most of the school of those 2000 students have been in a classroom with a confirmed case of COVID,” Horsley said.
Education during the pandemic has been anything but normal. Districts, teachers, students and parents are forced to balance life, school, safety along with plenty of patience.
“I want it to be done as quickly as possible so I can go back to in person school,” Rohan said.