Back to school: will students receive high-quality instruction?


Osborne Earl Smith

Greeley West World Studies teachers Mr. Stephen Paulson, Mr. Taylor Juarez, and Mr. Cody Jiru plan for the first week of instruction this year on Thursday.

Nathaniel Rudolph, Staff Writer

Amidst this growing pandemic, schools have been faced with a difficult challenge: should they return to in-person learning or stay in the online format. District 6 administration chose to return to school part-time and full time, with many restrictions and precautions. Despite this milestone for schools in the district, the concern has been raised: will students receive the same quality of education in this greatly regulated school year?

During the summer, administrators, health officials, school board members, and many more have been planning and adjusting the new school year based on the ever-changing crisis. Despite the changing CDC guidelines and procedures from the state, the district eventually came to a plan that would allow students to return to school safely. This plan consisted of many key points that would allow the students to attain the highest level of education while being in a controlled environment.

Relationships are a colossal factor of education, and if students and teachers aren’t able to build these foundations, then the teachers aren’t able to provide their best learning capabilities. Mr. John Haefeli, a District 6 School Board Director and former Greeley West social studies teacher, indicated how important these connections are.

“If students can spend 6, 8, or even 12 weeks with their teachers, then they will be able to build these key relationships that are the groundwork for education. Because if the state decides to shut us down, the students will have the ability to go online and have a quality education with their teachers, increasing their success one hundred percent,” Haefeli said.

Another key factor that the administrators took into consideration is the option of choice, and the ability to have access to education. Kids can choose to attend in-person school or opt out and receive online learning. Haefeli explained that each student needs to be comfortable with their educational position and have access to the same quality as the students around them.

“Everyone learns differently,” Haefeli said. “Some learn better online and some prefer the face-to-face interactions with their teachers and class members. Due to this difference, we wanted to offer each student choice, but also access to the vast knowledge of education, making sure each student receives learning that is comfortable for them.”

Even though choice is an important part during this trying time, online learning has become a concern for some parents, teachers, and students, as the classes that can be taken during this online format are severely limited.

Currently, high schools are hiring their own personnel to teach and attend to the students that chose to go online. Although the numbers for how many students there will be per teacher is unclear, the lack of classes available to the students is a concern for education diversity. The district is trying to give each student access to electives, but this could change as each student has a different schedule. Ms. Stacie Datteri, the assistant superintendent for District 6 said schedules are being populated each day for online students.

“Leadership at each of the schools is doing all they can to provide the classes in an online environment, including electives, to students so that they are able to engage students fully,” Datteri said.

Not only is the district trying to prevent the decrease in education diversity, but also provide students a quality education that can compare to the level of engagement from in-person learning. Although, this still leaves a severe gap for quality education, as most content found within the online courses is curriculum that never allows the teachers and students to connect.

This year is going to be a challenge for teachers, students, administrators, and every parent choosing to send their child online or in-person. Each day, district employees will work to ensure every student receives a quality education, choice in that education, have an opportunity to form relationships with teachers, and most importantly the courage to take on their dreams.  Greeley West principal Mr. Jeff Cranson believes this crisis we have been facing will adapt and change education, helping each student reach their true potential.

“Like many things in our society, education is being pushed quickly into the future, forcing us to embrace online tools and other technologies faster than we would have otherwise. Just like businesses are having to adapt, schools are as well, creating more flexible and rigorous courses for our students,” Cranson said.

“The hope is that by challenging educators to find creative solutions to new problems that the pandemic is causing, we can create better instructional settings for our students, create more personalized learning opportunities, and can help our students thrive whether the instruction is in person or at home.”