Nearly a quarter of Battle Ground parents unsure about upcoming school year

A survey by the district found most favor at least some physical learning this fall

BATTLE GROUND — The Battle Ground School District is the latest in Clark County to poll its parents, students, and staff about the upcoming school year.

The survey received more than 4,800 responses, accounting for 9,354 students. Another survey asked similar questions of the district’s staff members, which 1,108 responded to. 

Battle Ground High School. File photo
Battle Ground High School. File photo

Questions centered on impressions of how distance learning worked following the closure of schools in March, and how people feel the upcoming school year should be approached.

Nearly 92 percent said they had reliable internet at home. District spokesperson Rita Sanders said they have been working to get Wi-Fi hotspots to the remainder in order to help them connect.

The district has also made paper packets available for parents without access to reliable internet, or people working from home who can’t share the computer easily.

“I know a couple families who have multiple children,” Sanders told the school board during a presentation on Monday, “and they decided to use paper packets because they were managing so many children in their classes and it was easier.”

On the positives of the current distance learning model, nearly 70 percent said they appreciated the ability to complete the work at their own pace. Others appreciated the time allowed to complete projects, and the availability of teachers to respond to questions.

The negatives largely centered around students missing their classmates, teachers, and the ability to learn in a school building.

Many of the comments submitted along with the survey centered around that issue as well, with parents admitting to feeling overwhelmed trying to guide their students through assignments, or wishing there was more guidance on 

More than 70 percent of parents said they would send their children back to a physical school building in the fall, even if a vaccine for COVID-19 has not been found. Another 24 percent said they were undecided, and 5.7 percent said no.

Asked which model of school they would be most comfortable with, 74 percent said they were either comfortable or very comfortable with a hybrid approach, with full day classes one or two days a week, augmented by online learning.

Twenty percent of respondents said they might consider homeschooling their children, or putting them in private school.

Asked about masks, nearly 8 in 10 said students should not be required to wear masks all day, while 57 percent said they also would prefer that masks not be required on buses. Seventy percent said no to students wearing masks during class.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents to a Battle Ground School District survey were against having students wear masks while in class. Image courtesy Battle Ground School District
Nearly 80 percent of respondents to a Battle Ground School District survey were against having students wear masks while in class. Image courtesy Battle Ground School District

Battle Ground Superintendent Mark Ross said the district will conduct a follow-up survey later in Summer, after they’ve received more guidance from the state and have better clarity on what learning will look like next year.

Ross also said other districts have seen similar results in their surveys, with 70-80 percent of parents saying they would put their students back in class, and the rest wanting to keep them home or uncertain.

“Talking about the equity question, I think you’re going to need to provide those opportunities of online learning for them,” said Ross. “Those parents who are worried about coming back.”

Many of the parents who provided comments suggested that the district implement a model that allows people who have compromised immune systems or discomfort with being in public to continue learning online.

“I suggest allowing all day school and recording sessions for those who want online learning can watch the classroom settings,” one parent wrote. “They can be given work to do at home and given classroom teaching and instruction in person.”

“There’s a reason I didn’t want to be a teacher,” wrote another parent who admitted the distance learning has been difficult. “My kid needs to be around others his age to make friends and to respect adults too.”

Others were more adamant that they would not be putting their children back in class if masks and social distancing were required.

“Enough is enough!” one wrote. “We need our schools to reopen in a normal fashion.”

“Either half or full days 1 or 2 days a week make it extremely difficult for families where both parents work,” wrote another. “These children should not be expected to wear masks, they would not be able to do so appropriately in a way that would benefit themselves or others for any length of time.”

Another comment may have best summed up the way parents view the difficult decisions the district is facing.

“Good Luck.”