Remote learning frustrates, delays East Lansing parents

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McKoy Scribner

An empty East Lansing High School campus awaits while students are learning remotely through the end of October.

Parents wondering when East Lansing students can resume in-person learning hoped to get an answer in a School Board meeting held via Zoom on Sept. 28. They were disappointed.

One was school board candidate Joshua Barber.

“I thought there would have been a plan at this last meeting,” Barber said. “It seems like we would have made some progress at this point. There’s a lot of families out there that are hurting right now and their kids are, too.”

During her report, Superintendent Dori Leyko announced that a plan would be brought to the Board Oct. 12.

During public comment, parents made clear that would be too late. Public school supporter Jada Phelps said she had to pursue a different option for her child.

“I had to make the difficult decision to put him someplace that I think he can get what he needs.”

Phelps said she has immense respect for Leyko and her decision. 

However, Phelps said, “It does put some parents in a situation where they’re going to make a decision with or without the plan. I don’t know what the plan is but clearly I’ve already made my decision that Oct. 11 is gonna be a longer wait than we can withstand as a family.” Phelps added, “I do think that there could be some vivid transparency and a tentative plan with some understanding that the plan may change.” 

Board Secretary Chris Martin said he understands why parents have pulled children out of East Lansing Public Schools and hopes it will be for only a short time.

“I think it’s a rational decision if parents can do it,” the second-year board member said. “Hopefully they come back because I believe that public schools offer the best all-around education.”

Martin added that a draft of the plan should be taken to experts and teachers for their opinions.

“It seems like the district is willing to pursue a strategy of putting a plan out and getting some feedback, so I want to support that,” Martin said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll get something together and as soon as the numbers in the community start looking better, we can start delivering high-quality education in our school buildings.”

McKoy Scribner

The East Lansing High School welcome sign reads: “Let’s make it a great year! We love our East Lansing family!”

Trustee Nichole Martin gave her full support to families that have decided to pursue other educational paths for their children.

“I am glad that there is an option out there to get education for their kids that they feel is necessary at the moment,” Nichole Martin said. “I am 100% supportive. Am I sad to see people go? Absolutely.”

The four-year board member said she wants every teacher to be provided with the proper safety equipment.

“We need to make sure that teachers who are in-person are provided with the right PPE, procedures, and structures to help ease their day,” she said. “We also need to support teachers who are teaching online and get better. We need to have conversations on how to improve online and not settle for where we’re at.” 

Nichole Martin said “I have full confidence in Superintendent Leyko and her team’s ability to bring something forth that we can support.”