With almost a month to go into classes in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), parents whose students are taking virtual classes are concerned about what they consider to be poor quality instruction.
At the beginning of the semester it was recommended to parents that students had the option of attending classes in person or virtual if they feared contagion of COVID-19 in their schools. Classes would be offered via zoom with City of Angels, a school that offers virtual classes to K-12 students with a full-time educational program.
However, Erika, a mother of a second-grader, said that she began to notice the problem before the start of classes at City of Angels.
“My son was not registered and when he called they did not answer me,” said Erika, who asked not to reveal her last name for fear of reprisals.
When classes began, the child did not have the link to attend his virtual class. They managed to solve the problem and received the link but now they face the problem that the child does not have books for his classes.
“I’ve been trying to get their books and I went to the local school where we can get the materials but they sent me to City of Angels,” said the mother of the family.
When he went to pick up the books they only gave him the math one and of three other books they only gave him paper copies.
“I am a teacher and I feel bad for the teacher who is teaching because she is doing everything possible to help the students and I do not know why they do not give them the books,” he said.
Erika said she did not send her son to school in person as he suffers from asthma and believed that it would be safer from home. Now she fears that her son is going to get worse during this semester of classes.
A similar situation faces Dulce, another mother who also asked not to reveal her last name. She has two sons at City of Angels, one in second grade and one in fifth grade.
She worries that her daughter who is in second grade does not have a suitable teacher but rather a high school counselor is teaching them.
Dulce said her son, who has speech problems, has been in Individualized Education Program (IEP) classes. But he has been intimidated by the teacher who apparently did not know that he needs more help than the other students.
Additionally, Dulce said that when she tried to enter the link for her son’s class at 8 in the morning, the time that supposedly is the start of classes, the teacher was not there.
When he asked her what was happening, the teacher replied that her class began at 9 in the morning.
“Take it or leave it but that was his schedule,” Dulce said. “But in the webinar we were never told that they were going to enter at a time other than 8 in the morning.”
Now she worries that her son will not be ready for the moment when he is due to enter middle school next year.
“It is not the first time that they teach online, I think that if the teachers are not trained to do it they will not do it,” said Dulce.
In response to the complaints, LAUSD said it is working to make the Online Independent Study Program a positive learning experience for all students who need this option.
She acknowledged that at the beginning of the school year there were problems with some students and that the enrollment process was uncomfortable, especially for students with learning differences. They and their parents had to attend necessary IEP meetings to ensure they are assigned to the most appropriate location for their learning needs.
“While we have trained 404 teachers before the first day of school, staffing has been a challenge and we continue to work to hire even more qualified teachers,” LAUSD stated. “In some cases, we have had to change teacher assignments as we learn more about the needs of students and teachers.”
LAUSD confirmed that they continue to enroll students on a daily basis. The semester started with 5,000 students and now they have more than 14,000 students including new students who express interest every day.
“We apologize for any frustration our parents and students have experienced with starting the Independent Study Program, and we are committed to solving every problem, one family at a time,” LAUSD stressed. “We are committed to providing the education our students deserve, whether through independent study online or in person.”