Fairfield family upset at quality of long-term remote learning

Macy Schulman, left, and Mason Yeoh, both students at Fairfield Warde High School, carry pro-remote learning signs during a rally of parents and students fighting to have an online option for school this year, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Fairfield, Conn. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media)

Macy Schulman, left, and Mason Yeoh, both students at Fairfield Warde High School, carry pro-remote learning signs during a rally of parents and students fighting to have an online option for school this year, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Fairfield, Conn. (Ned Gerard/Hearst Connecticut Media)

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — Lezah Yeoh said her son Mason has to essentially teach himself with the district’s current remote option.

Mason, a student at Fairfield Warde High School, “has to do hours and hours of math, English and science all on his own and then he is given a two-hour tutor,” Yeoh said at a recent school board meeting. She said other students who are quarantining due to COVID have more access to their actual classrooms and teachers.

“This is unacceptable,” she said. “It’s a problem.”

He is one of nine students considered long-term remote, each of whom has an individualized plan.

Yeoh had organized a rally with her son back in August demanding Fairfield at least give students the option to stay at home. Her frustrations then stemmed from the school district focusing on returning all students back to in-person learning and disregarding the students who cannot go back for legitimate health reasons.

She’s now asking for her son to have his teachers again.

At the meeting she said students attending school who get COVID and then asked to quarantined are able to access Google Classroom and their teachers.

“They are allowed to access things that my son can no longer access,” she said. “He has one tutor now who is an English teacher and who is teaching all subjects and even the tutor admitted that he cannot go past geometry and that he is not good at math. This is what we’re offered. All we’re asking is for our son to have his teachers.”

Superintendent Mike Cummings said there is a difference between quarantined, or short-term remote instruction, and instruction for home-bound, or long-term remote, students.

“For long-term needs there is more one-to-one support,” Cummings said. “Each plan has to be tailored to the specific needs of the student. For all students we need to work with families on keeping them engaged in school and learning.”

According to the policy regulations, students in kindergarten through fifth grade who are quarantining will be included in daily classroom morning meeting through Google Meet. The support instructor will meet with the student daily — either individually or in grade-level groups — provide academic support, monitor work completion and adjust workloads as needed in consultation with the classroom teacher.

For quarantined students in grades six through 12, teachers will post relevant lesson materials and assignments in the online Google Classroom. Teachers are also available through their school email. Students can choose how they want to interact in the class. They can have lesson videos ahead of time, check in with their teacher on Google Meets at least once a day for at least 20 minutes or the teacher can turn on the classroom cameras and provide live instruction.

The short-term remote learning strategy has been used numerous times since the start of the year. Cummings said they have had students in quarantine since the first day of school, however, numbers have fluctuated since.

According to the daily FPS COVID-19 Dashboard, a total of 102 students and staff in the district have had to quarantine so far this year. Within that number, 47 students and staff have actually tested positive. As of Thursday, 22 students are in quarantine and a total of 17 students and staff are positive.

School board members encouraged families using any of the remote plans to stay in constant communication with district officials so they can determine if more supports are needed.

“We are going to be reviewing the process of our plan ongoing,” said Robert Mancusi, executive director of special education and student services. “We want to work with our families to make this work. We know this is really hard.”