EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Why the SLC school board shut down its virtual elementary school

Jun 22, 2023, 3:55 PM | Updated: 7:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY -- Homeschooling is increasing in popularity across the nation, including Utah. Inte...

Dave and Dujanovic discussed Tuesday what goes into a school district's decision to switch to remote learning. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City School District board voted Tuesday to shut down Salt Lake Virtual Elementary

And it wasn’t an easy decision, Yándary Chatwin with the Salt Lake City School District told Dave and Dujanovic

 

Why shut the virtual elementary down?

The virtual elementary school began as a means of meeting the needs of children and families, said Chatwin. But coming out of the pandemic, those needs have changed.

“There are a lot fewer families enrolled in that program right now,” she said. When the school opened two years ago, there were more than 200 students enrolled. Now, those numbers have dwindled to under 90.

Money was an issue, too. Chatwin confirmed that a lack of funding played a large role in the board’s decision. 

“The board is committed … to being wise stewards of those tax dollars,” she explained. “The decision was not made lightly. But it was made in a very thoughtful manner.”

How does this affect parents and teachers?

Chatwin said teachers will be reassigned or transferred to different schools within the district.  

“We’re hopeful that through attrition and, you know, openings at other schools within our district, we’ll be able to keep those really talented staff on board.”

Dianne Moore, a former virtual teacher for the school district, said the virtual program was one of a kind.

Moore called into the Dave and Dujanevic show and was invited to talk more about her experience with virtual teaching. She spoke as a teacher and does not represent the school or the district. 

 

Moore said the parents of these students are upset. For some of them, this was one of the only options for their children to be able to go to school. For example, one student she mentioned couldn’t go to school in person because they had a heart operation. 

“They had to stay at home because they couldn’t introduce any diseases or any germs into their home,” she said. “By being online, they were able to maintain that germ-free environment.” 

Moore also expressed her appreciation for the program, saying she was able to work collaboratively with parents. Consequently, she didn’t feel as close to them when she was working in person. 

“They were able to tell me exactly what they needed help with,” she said. “If I wasn’t explaining something right, I could explain it better. So the parents felt like they were just right there with me.”

As for Moore, she isn’t sure what’s next. 

“I’m kind of in a hard spot. And I’m hoping to work that out.”

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Why the SLC school board shut down its virtual elementary school