Students, parents prepare for remote learning

MIAMI COUNTY — More than 2,500 Miami County students will be studying from home this fall as schools offer remote learning options due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools offered the online learning option for each semester or two nine-week grading sessions and will allow parents to either continue with the program through the fall or opt back in to the classroom setting mid-year.

Parents shared a variety reasons why they chose the remote learning option for their family this fall — the child and family’s health, masks mandates and consistency in their daily lives.

Troy’s Scott and Aluscia Jones decided to keep their 8-year-old daughter home for the fall semester. She’ll be in second grade at Cookson Elementary starting Sept. 8. The Jones said their daughter struggled with eight cases of strep last year — with zero strep cases since school closed — and are keeping her home to protect her health. Their daughter will be one of 94 second-grade students using the Troy Virtual Academy program through Troy City Schools. The second grade had the most online learning students in the district and a total of 931 students opted for the program district-wide.

“I worry about her handwriting and practicing her letters,” Aluscia said, and said she plans on having their daughter write a letter to a friend once a week and practice sentences.

If offered for the whole year, the Jones said they’ll likely keep the remote learning option for the year. One challenge of remote learning is Scott and Aluscia work 8-5 jobs. Their babysitter and grandmother have offered help to with the classwork during the day. The Jones said they’ll still have their daughter participate in softball, but they’ll continue to be cautious around others using masks and social distancing.

Branden Spahr of Troy said his family decided to enroll their sophomore son for remote learning for the year as a safety measure for not only their teenager, but their 2 year-old child in the home. Once the option was available, Spahr said they knew they’d be utilizing it. Their son is a sophomore at Miami East High School, which will use the SchoolPLP program through the Miami County/Montgomery County Education Service Centers.

Miami East Local Schools has 126 students enrolled in online learning this semester. Spahr’s son will be one of seven sophomores at Miami East online this semester.

Spahr said they’ll continue the remote learning option until there’s a significant period of “no new cases, a better understanding of the virus, and an overall feeling of comfort.”

“We are not opposed for him to go back to in-person classes,” said Spahr, a former teacher, and his wife is a current teacher with the Ohio Virtual Academy so online education support will be accessible in the home. Their son is currently playing soccer at Miami East and they aren’t opposed to him hanging out with friends as long as there is masks and social distancing involved.

Danelle Brokschmidt’s 14-year-old daughter will be taking her first year of high school classes online. Her daughter will be a freshmen at Miami East and one of nine freshmen opting for online learning.

Brokschmidt said they decided on the remote learning option due to the required masks as well as her own career schedule. She said their family is taking the remote learning option one semester at a time. Brokschmidt said it was ultimately her daughter’s decision to take classes online for the semester. Brokschmidt said her daughter will seek help from the high school teacher who oversees the remote learning option for their district. Her daughter doesn’t have a fall activity, but looks forward to participating in the indoor track activities in the winter and spring.