PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Parents in the Pasco County School district are voicing concerns after the superintendent announced that the district will not offer an online learning program next school year.
The program, mySchool Online, was created in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and allows students to take their classes online while staying connected to the teachers and peers at their school.READ MORE: Trump says he took the Fifth in questioning in New York Attorney General fraud investigation
District employees say 76% of students are enrolled in traditional school, 21% use the mySchool Online program, and 3% use Pasco eSchool, a district-wide program. Some parents say they’re upset mySchool Online won’t be available next year, while others say students need to be back in the classroom.
Bianca Sardinas, Pasco County parent says her daughter loves the program. “They engage really well with the kids. We were worried that would do harm to her socially but we play with all the kids in the neighborhood.”
Sardinas has a first grade daughter who goes to Wiregrass Elementary School in the mySchool Online program. The program Superintendent, Kurt Browning, says won’t be available next school year.
“They informed me there’s still going to be an option to do school online, it just won’t be with us and I was really saddened by that,” said Sardinas.
The district says the decision was made after seeing a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in the schools, but that’s not Sardinas’ only concern.
“It was a really rough Kindergarten year for us. We started her at the school in-person, and every two weeks, she either had a cold or a stomach virus,” said Sardinas.
District officials say their data shows many students in the mySchool Online program are struggling both academically and socially, but Sardinas says the program works for her family, adding, “We love Wiregrass because of all the staff, all of the teachers we’ve encountered.”READ MORE: Clean air advocates urge Georgia school systems to apply for school bus rebate funding
Cheryl Lerman, Pasco County parent says “Children need to be away from their parents to learn how to survive and to learn how to grow and to learn how to be those independent individuals that we choose to raise them to be.”
On the other hand, Lerman, says students need to be back in school.
“I watched him crumble in front of my eyes,” said Lerman.
Lerman’s 17-year-old son struggled when schools closed in 2020 and his classes were online.
“It was a no-brainer for us. They want back,” said Lerman.
She believes in-person school is the most beneficial way of learning.
“These are their memories to a huge era of their lives. We can’t get back that time. They’ve already lost a year of their time,” said Lerman.MORE NEWS: Local advocates oppose Atlanta City Jail bed lease agreement
CW44’s Casey Albritton did reach out to both Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to find out what their plans are for next school year, and district employees say they are currently working on that.