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Survey: Jordan School District parents want to keep pandemic schedule

Posted at 9:47 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 23:47:46-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah — The results are in: It's clear how most parents, students and teachers who took a recent Jordan School District survey feel about the pandemic school schedule.

That survey is now helping move the Jordan School Board of Education forward in looking at the possibility of making that schedule permanent.

More than 16,000 people weighed in on the survey, which asked questions like if they were satisfied with the current four-day in-person schedule with Fridays set aside for distance learning or small group sessions.

It also asked if they preferred the current schedule over the pre-pandemic school schedule.

"This was very fascinating to hear the results. This is a lot to digest," Jordan School Board of Education Vice President Bryce Dunford said.

He said he found the results surprising.

"When you look at those survey results, you have to admit -- we might be onto something significant here," Dunford said. "And it would be foolish to just throw it out without pausing to say, 'Did we discover something that's a better way to deliver education?'"

A pie chart shows the survey results, broken down by if people were "very satisfied," "satisfied," "neutral," "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied."

67 percent of respondents fell into the "very satisfied" or "satisfied" categories, while 23 percent chose "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied."

The rest, 11 percent, remained neutral.

According to the survey, 63 percent said they preferred the current school schedule over the pre-pandemic one, whereas 34 percent indicated that they want the schedule to go back to how it was before COVID-19.

READ: Do parents want distance learning after the pandemic? The Jordan School District wants to know

"Everybody that I've seen has been willing to say, 'Hey, if we put some more structure on this, if we put some more thought into it, this could be really great,'" said parent Sara Nichols, one of the 16,112 people who took the survey.

Nichols has three children in Jordan District schools -- two elementary and one middle schooler. She also is the president of the South Jordan Elementary Community Council, which means she's had lots of discussion with the council, as well as parents and teachers.

"The parents that I have spoken to at the junior high level overwhelmingly have loved it," she said. "Elementary has been a little bit more mixed... it's less obvious, in some cases, how the elementary piece can work."

It's that need for structure and clearer expectations that came in as the number one concern in the survey that people said they wanted to change if the current schedule were to continue.

The school board certainly has questions, too, before they would consider any possible changes.

Much like Nichols pointed out, Dunford indicated that they'd have to dissect the various levels of schooling to see if the four-day in-person with Friday distance learning works at every grade.

"We would have to ask the question, 'Is every level the same? Would elementary schools and secondary schools need to be different?'" he said.

And while they made things work during the pandemic, he explained that they'd have to see what it takes to keep this going permanently.

"If we're really going to commit to that on a long-term basis, do we have the resources to make sure that everything is available for students?" Dunford questioned.

Not to mention -- and the board brought this up at Tuesday's meeting -- would state law even allow it?

The board organized a committee to take a closer look and answer those questions. The committee is expected to come up with a proposal that gives the district options on how to move forward.

Dunford said the survey was the first step, and Tuesday was meant to hear the results and let those results digest.

Any plan or proposal would go before the community for discussion and thought before any decision, he indicated.

During the meeting, board members expressed that they want to get an idea sooner rather than later so that they can give parents as much time to plan for the fall as possible.

The committee is expected to give an initial report at the board's next meeting.