INDIANAPOLIS — Families are forced to make tough decisions when it comes to their kid’s education, including deciding to enroll their kids in different school districts to have them learning in person.
Most districts across the state are giving families the option of e-learning or in-person, but not all.
“We just knew, this isn’t working and we needed to make a change and so that’s what we did,” Sarah Holsapple said.
As a first-grader, Holsapple’s son was part of a dual language immersion program at Willow Lake Elementary in MDS of Washington Township, spending 80% of his day learning in Spanish.
But despite loving his school and the program, the district’s decision to go entirely virtual learning was not working for them.
“We have nothing but positive things to say and the decision to leave the school was extremely hard as a result of how much we loved it,” Holsapple said. “We went from having a child who was enthusiastic about learning and excited to go to school every single day to a child who was unengaged and actually asking us at the end of each day if he really had to sign on again in the morning.”
They decided to leave the district for the time being and enrolled him in a private school that is currently in-person.
“Ultimately, you have seven-year-olds looking at a computer screen for three to four hours of a day and expecting them to then retain the information that they’re learning," Holsapple said. "And at least for my seven-year-old, it wasn’t working. It wasn’t functional. And we could honestly see a regression from beginning of the school year up until now."
The Marion County Health Department has provided some guidance for schools, recommending when the percentage of positive cases in the county reaches 13% or higher, there should no in-person classes.
But in Washington Township, if the percent positive is 5.1% or higher, schools will remain closed. Right now, Marion County is at 5.2%.
“Our frustration came when we started seeing all of the other township schools in Marion County have plans that included in-person learning at least for elementary-age kids and yet our school board seemed to not be able to figure out a way to make that happen,” Holsapple said.
Holsapple says her son’s demeanor has already changed.
He’s waking up early, excited to get to school. But she says she’s sad for hers and other families' decision to leave the district.