Palm Beach County school leaders want to ease struggles of simultaneous teaching

Officials asking parents to lock in their child's instructional choice for remainder of school year
Posted at 9:14 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 09:25:32-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County school leaders say they understand the struggles that students and educators are facing with simultaneous teaching and are hoping to improve things.

At Wednesday night's school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy said the School District of Palm Beach County wants parents to lock in their child's instructional choice for the remainder of the school year.

"I want our educators, our students, and our parents to know we hear you. We understand your concerns," Fennoy said. "Simultaneous instruction is not ideal, but it's our best solution right now."

Fennoy admitted that simultaneous teaching, in which educators teach students both in the classroom and on distance learning at the same time, has presented challenges. Namely, the unpredictability of students showing up in class one day, then staying at home the next.

"Currently we are seeing numerous students bounce back and forth daily between in-person and distance learning," Fennoy said. "This fluidity is taxing our teachers and many of our departments throughout the district."


Palm Beach County school leaders want parents to lock in choice

Starting on Monday, Oct. 5, the window will open for parents and guardians to make their final choice on the instructional model they want their children to take part in, either in-classroom or distance learning.

If you want to change your child's current instructional choice for the first semester, update the "Make Your Choice" tile in the student portal.

If you don't want to make any changes and are satisfied with the current learning model your child is in, you don't have to do anything.

The window to make changes will close on Oct. 14, and those changes will take effect on Nov. 4 and run through the end of the first semester, which is Jan. 29.

Keep in mind that after Oct. 14, no further changes will be allowed for the first semester.

Additionally, parents will have from Jan. 4 through Jan. 11 to make any changes to their child's instructional model for the second semester. Again, if you don't want to make any changes, you don't have to do anything.

Those changes will take effect on Feb. 2, which is the first day of the second semester, and will run through the end of the school year.

Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald said on Wednesday night that locking in these choices will allow schools to potentially offer more remote opportunities and less simultaneous teaching for students and teachers who wish to remain at home.

"This would allow for schools to establish and look to investigate potentially more opportunities for that to, one, less simultaneous teaching and potential more remote work," Oswald said.

School board member Marcia Andrews said she's visited several schools over the last week and observed the struggles of simultaneous teaching.

"It's not for everybody. It's truly not for every student," Andrews said. "It's been a difficult time for some of the teachers, as well as some of the students."

Andrews said the strategy by the school district to get parents to lock in their instructional choices gives her hope.

"I hear you saying, help us, help us," Andrews said. "Teachers are getting burnt out. Students are falling behind. We must do our best to correct this teaching style."


Board member Marcia Andrews talks about teaching struggles

According to Dr. Fennoy, 36% of students in the School District of Palm Beach County are doing in-classroom instruction, while 64% are in distance learning.