SACRAMENTO, Calif (KTXL) – As the omicron variant impacts the Sacramento City Unified School District, many parents are opting for independent studies.
At the start of the new school year, many parents, like Beth Hurn, had concerns about sending their kids back to in-person learning. Hurn said she didn’t want her son to go back to campus.
“I knew right away that whatever option they gave us to keep him out of the classroom was the option we’d go with,” Hurn said.
That option ended up being the independent studies program within the school district.
“I knew there was going to be crowded classrooms,” Hurn said. “So it just seemed like the best option for us to keep him safe at the time.”
While Hurn is aware of a teacher shortage at the district, she wasn’t prepared to wait for months for her son to join the program. During that time, she and her sixth-grade son work on take-home packets, but it’s hardly the education she was hoping for her son.
“We didn’t have anyone looking over the work,” Hurn said. “We didn’t have any feedback on how he was doing.”
For parents like Hurn, independent studies at Capital City School felt like the safest option, but with the ongoing teacher shortage, Hurn feels like she is being punished for choosing not to have her son go back to in-person learning.
“I know it’s independent study, but we should have access to somebody who’s making sure we’re getting our work done, making sure we’re on the right track and stuff like that,” Hurn said.
Last week, Hurn’s son finally got a teacher, but she said all those months of waiting caused her son to fall behind.
“He basically was sent busy work,” she said.
Hundreds of other students are still waiting to get an independent studies teacher.
Superintendent Jorge Aguilar said he’s aware parents are frustrated and he’s hopeful for a solution this week following a meeting with the teacher’s union.
“Because of staffing shortages that we have all faced across the state and the nation, we have about 370 students who are on a waitlist for independent studies,” Aguilar said.
“We believe that our parents are looking for the ability to have their children enroll in independent study and have access to synchronous instruction, real-time instruction,” Aguilar continued.
The district is scheduled to meet with the Sacramento City Teachers Association on Thursday to discuss the teacher shortage.
The union’s president told FOX40 they believe a good start to ending the shortage is to pay the teachers what they deserve.