Davis School Board sticks with online and in-class hybrid plan after 2-hour meeting

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FARMINGTON — After a two-hour meeting that included a lengthy discussion and public input, the Davis School District decided to stick with a hybrid of online and part-time in-person classes to start the school year.

Thursday night’s meeting was called to address how the board came to the decision to utilize a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. Board President John Robison said when board members voted on July 14, they voted for a plan that would be one of three options — school five days a week, completely online, or a hybrid of online and in class instruction.

They have the flexibility to change that plan as they feel they need to, noting that information about COVID-19 is constantly changing, and they need to be able to react to situations as necessary.

Board Vice President Liz Mumford said this process has been a great opportunity to receive more input from the parents and teachers in the district. She said there was a “strong, strong sentiment for this hybrid approach.”

“I really feel confident about this hybrid plan, and I appreciate the input from the community,” Mumford said.

The meeting started with a parent expressing a desire for five days a week of in-person schooling. She was followed by Davis District science teacher Brittney Wallace.

“When we were set up for five days a week with 36 kids in my science room, the conversation I had every day with my husband was, ‘Should I quit my job?’” Wallace said. “Our numbers in Utah are growing. Then I heard about the switch and the conversation ended. … I was at ease and ready to work with the changes. … Why are we questioning the science behind this?”

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Denise Wilmore spoke representing the Davis Education Association, and she offered results of a survey of the group’s members. She said 65% of those responding prefer an alternating day schedule, citing health and welfare. Only 15% preferred a totally online option, while 20% of the group’s members said they wanted to teach in school five days a week.

“This is a difficult time, and we appreciate your willingness to face this difficult situation, which none of us expected,” Wilmore said.

Julie Parkinson, mother of six children, three of whom are still in school, expressed concern for the thousands of children who did not do well with the 100% online option in the spring.

Viewmont High student Kira Wharton spoke in favor of the hybrid. Her sister is at risk because she is diabetic, and she is afraid for her and others like her.

“We’re all in this together, whether we want to be or not,” she said. “If we were to limit classroom sizes, we’d at least have a chance. … This is a serious threat. Of course I’m going to miss my friends. … I’m willing to see my friends less and have online school for three days a week, to keep my friends and family from contracting and possibly dying from this virus.”

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