Lee County School Board member worried about student achievement gap

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Lee County School Board member Gwyn Gittens. Credit: WINK News.

The School District of Lee County had 19 classrooms in Lee County schools closed due to the coronavirus Thursday, as teachers quarantined, leaving schools short-staffed.

Those working have no time to plan because they are being shifted to cover rooms with absent teachers.

The District must handle two separate but equally important issues — health and education.

For things to improve, school board member Gwyn Gittens suggests parents, teachers and administrators must talk things out sooner rather than later.

When students went back to school, the District had a plan to help kids who fell behind last school year.

“We already know that certain kids are behind because of last year, and we already had an achievement gap before last year,” Gittens said.

Gittens worries the achievement gap might get worse this school year.

“At this point, it’s making me very, very nervous,” Gittens said. “I just don’t know how we can make it better right now.”

Tuesday, the District closed 10 different classrooms, sending well over 100 students and teachers into quarantine.

This school year, there’s no virtual option for kids to take part in class from home.

“Look at it like a chessboard,” Gittens said. “If you were missing a queen and a rook, you can’t play the game. If you were missing 18 to 14 teachers, how do you play the game? And yet we have to continue with the game. We have to continue educating children.”

“My one child who’s a little bit more OCD, it’s very stressful for him,” parent Cher Martino said. “And they want me to keep emailing the teacher and asking questions, and it gets a little overwhelming.”

Martino’s two kids are in quarantine. She hopes the district finds a way to bring back live, real time, virtual learning.

“If they were on home connect, they at least have that teacher there, that they can ask a question,” Martino said. “They have that little bit more of a support system.”

But Lee Home Connect is no longer available, and bringing it back is probably not an option.

Gittens told us she plans to request a school board workshop meeting to discuss possible solutions for the achievement gap.

“There is an answer, and I don’t know what it is, and I don’t think anyone person will have it,” Gittens said. “We have to listen to everybody, roll up our sleeves, be able to compromise.”

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