Detroit schools start Parent Academy to help parents with virtual learning

Hundreds of parents concerned with how school year will go

DETROIT – Members of the support staff at Detroit Public Schools Community District held a rally Sunday pushing for the district to switch to virtual learning only.

Paraprofessionals, educational aides, food service workers and more protested outside David L. Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School.

Parents who chose the DPSCD’s virtual option are concerned for a different reason. Hundreds of parents have signed a petition online that said they’re fearful their children may fall behind.

The Change.org petition was started by a Detroit mother to call on the district to do more to prepare for virtual learning. The parents said they want more communication from the DPSCD as their children are set to begin school Tuesday.

I don’t want to put teachers at risk. I don’t want to put my family at risk,” said Marya Ferguson. “I want to keep my baby at home, but what do I do after that?”

Ferguson’s 7-year-old son, Noah, starts school virtually Tuesday. She said she feels the district underestimated how many parents would keep their children at home.

“I think our school district assumed that more parents were going to go face-to-face and that it will be easier to navigate,” Ferguson said. “They weren’t expecting such a huge response for virtual learning because now they have to come face-to-face with all those questions that there were in the beginning.”

Questions like how to help parents that aren’t tech savvy, parents who physically have to be at work or parents juggling work-from-home schedules?

“I’m in other groups with other parents who don’t know what they’re going to do,” Ferguson said. “They don’t know how to work these computers. They don’t know how the schedule is going to be, so they can work around their work-at-home schedule or their actual physical work schedules to know what they should do for the kids.”

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Ferguson said the schedule has blocks of time dedicated to various subjects, but no breakdown of what will be taught and what’s expected of students during class.

“It doesn’t specify if you can just get off, do your work, and then come back on and then go back in, so that way you’re not just staring at a computer screen all day long,” Ferguson said.

She said the district does have resources available, but parents have to go out looking for them.

In response to concerns, the district is hosting training sessions for parents based on the learning platforms their child will be using. The Parent Academy was set up to help parents navigate their child’s online learning.

“I hope that we’re able to smoothly get this started and that my son doesn’t lose out on any learning experiences,” Ferguson said.

For more information on DPSCD’s Parent Academy Parent Training and for a schedule of training classes, visit the official website here.

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