(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) At the beginning of the school year, families in the St. Joseph School District had a choice: enroll in a new online learning system or go back inside the classroom as COVID-19 cases soared.
SJSD parents and students have to make that decision again.
“That’s a big decision to make when you’re 15,” said Christie Jackson, SJSD parent.
Friday, December 4th, families have to make that coin flip- virtual or in-person and for some, they're switching sides.
Students enrolled in the Virtual Academy wanting to head back to in-person learning or for students looking to switch to the district's online learning program, 5 p.m. is the deadline.
“I think the reason he struggled with the decision to go virtual is there are a lot of things he loves about going to school that are hard to emulate in a virtual environment,” said Jackson.
Jackson's son Tyler was starting his freshman year of high school at Central this fall. For Tyler, his mind was made.
“There wasn’t even an option like he wanted to go to high school. Totally get that,” said Jackson.
But Jackson said things quickly changed for her son, "As the semester has gone on, COVID has unfortunately caused things to have to shift a lot in our schools. For my son, who needs things to be consistent, it sometimes isn’t because of the world we’re living in today.”
So after a month of discussion, the Jackson family let Tyler pick what was best for him spring semester.
“I was really proud of him for finally coming to the point where he was able to say, ‘Mom, you know what? I think for me, I need to go virtual so I can figure out what I need to do and be the learner I need to be,” said Jackson.
The Jacksons aren't the only ones making the switchover, but SJSD superintendent said there's a slight increase in Virtual Academy students transferring back inside the classroom.
“It’s pretty close to a wash with just the information I’ve seen from the past couple of days. There’s about 60-70 more kids that are actually coming back face-to-face than virtual, but we’ve had transitions both ways," said Dr. Doug Van Zyl, SJSD Superintendent.
Dr. Van Zyl said because of the uncertainty surrounding this next semester, he thinks most families are going to stay put.
"I think people would rather stay with what they know and so I think that’s why quite a few are staying put in the Virtual Academy. Every parent has to make the decision for what they think is right for their child,” said Dr. Van Zyl.
Switching to online learning was a family decision for the Jacksons, one that took time and reflection into what was going to be best for Tyler.
“This really wasn’t a decision I made as a teacher or an educator. I made this decision as Tyler’s mom,” said Jackson.
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