Community advocate and mom of two school aged children, Annette Kunze, said it’s time to focus on getting Galt’s children back in their seats at school. Kunze, along with a handful of other concerned parents, has started a petition to garner support from other like-minded individuals.
“We are deeply concerned about the state of education in Galt,” the online petition reads. “We care sincerely about the children and teens in our community who deserve nothing less than a high-quality education. Paramount to a high-quality education is in-person instruction, where teachers can gauge students’ needs more accurately and interact with them more genuinely. Our youth, by nature, are hands-on learners who are being deprived daily of social and academic engagement.”
Kunze further believes that a well-rounded education includes one where students can have impromptu interactions with students, teachers and staff alike, including those interactions that happen with other members in the community on their way to and from school.
“Instinctively we know they aren’t getting it all,” Kunze said in an interview Monday. “This education ecosystem, that has nourished our community in the past, could collapse, crumble and fall in on itself. There are so many intangibles that you can’t calculate, such as the benefits of laughter, social interactions, smiles that you know are directed at you because that person is in front of you.”
Kunze said due to virtual learning, she believes that arts and culture opportunities have diminished, as well as physical education accountability.
Local parent and petition signer Joshua Schweigert fears the negative effects online schooling is having on children.
“I’m signing because our kids need the teachers to instruct our kids; our kids need social interaction between other kids, as well, Schweigert wrote. “This situation is raising our children to be hermits!”
Kunze recognizes that the districts are working hard to provide the best education they can in these circumstances; however, as an example of missed opportunities, her high school aged daughter spends only an hour and a half on Mondays, a non-Zoom class day, at school.
“Regardless of anyone’s best intentions, there is no situation where that can even begin to equate to a six hour in-person learning day,” Kunze said. “She essentially had a day off school. That is not healthy for our children or our education system”, an education system that Kunze fears will have families abandoning the public school sector for a private or homeschool setting.
“Thus, this ecosystem collapsing,” Kunze said.
But Kunze and her crew aren’t just complaining and making demands, they have approached both local school districts with ideas on how to reopen and helping with the “what if” analysis. But, perhaps more importantly, Kunze has promised to be there to support the districts’ efforts.
“We feel there are options to explore, using the larger school facilities such as libraries, multipurpose rooms and stadiums to bring in additional small cohorts,” Kunze said, “and use those stadiums for in-person physical education classes.”
But, the most important piece of advice?
“Strike while the iron is hot,” Kunze said. “As soon as the state or county allows the opportunity to add additional cohorts, we’ve got to be ready to add those students on campus before that window closes again.”
Kunze said that most parents she has been in contact with are in favor of a five day a week, in-person setting as soon as possible, something that she believes most, if not all, local educators want as well.
And for those educators or students who fear returning to soon?
Kunze said that that system is already in place.
“Teachers who can’t come back in front of a classroom can be matched with students who are not ready to come back. They can use the existing online learning system in place right now,” Kunze said.
However, Kunze acknowledges that nothing is ever simple, but that she and her peers are there to help the districts make the transitions.
“I’m sure our local educators have already thought of some of the ideas we’ve presented,” Kunze said. “We just want them to know that we are here to fully support them in whatever way we can.”
Kunze would like to thank those who have already signed the petition and to all the local educators who try to make the best out of this situation.
If you would like to sign Kunze’s petition, log on to change.org and search for “Our GALT Children & Teens Deserve to Go to School”.