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Shelby County parent starts a petition calling for virtual school to be shortened

More than 17,000 people have signed the petition to shorten the virtual school day in Shelby County.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been over a week since Shelby County Schools started virtual school.

Over the weekend parents said the first week went well, but some parents think virtual school should be shorter and have started a petition online.

“I fully support virtual learning, I just feel that the time frame, the duration of time is counterproductive,” said Arionna Onley, SCS parent.

Onley started an online petition asking Shelby County Schools to shorten the virtual school day from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.

“After that first day I was not convinced that this time frame was particularly productive for younger students,” said Onley.

More than 17,000 people have signed the petition.

Leia Spengler has two kids at SCS, she hasn’t signed the petition, but says she understands where parents with younger children are coming from.

“My kids would appreciate a shorter school day or virtual school day because they are having a hard time focusing on their classes,” said Spengler.

Both Spengler and Onley say they’ve always been told to limit their child’s screen time.

SCS’s digital learning guide says quote, “Schools may have a different approach to making sure all students get 32.5 hours of instruction per week.” Onley says with 7-hour-long instructions she’s spending a lot of time just making sure her children are focused.

“I have to be there to make sure not only that he’s paying attention, but that he’s getting the lesson, that he’s understanding it,” said Onley.

Onley says she has not heard from the district regarding the petition.

In a statement SCS said:

“Shelby County Schools is committed to providing high quality instruction to all students. Even in a virtual setting, we must ensure the Tennessee Department of Education’s (TDOE) requirements are met. The daily virtual learning schedule is aligned with the State’s required allotment of time for each content area, elective, and intervention period. Independent work and physical activity is also built into each day. We do not expect students to work on-screen for 6.5 hours continuously each day. Schools have customized their schedules to maximize student engagement while also recognizing our students and families are adjusting to the virtual learning environment. As always, we value family input and continue to ask for grace and patience as we navigate through this new normal together.”

This story was originally reported by WMC