Superintendent: 33% of Ovid-Elsie students are failing, partially due to virtual classes

High school students are planning a peaceful protest next week
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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SHIAWASSEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - Ovid-Elsie Area Schools in Shiawassee County are seeing a high number of students failing classes, which the district’s superintendent partially blames on remote education.

Students add that they are overworked.

The Ovid-Elsie district has around 1,400 students. In a letter to parents last week, Superintendent Ryan Cunningham said the failure rate was the highest he as ever seen at 33%, but he said on Friday that number has dropped to 9%.

“I think there’s just a general disconnect when you’re online," Cunningham said. "Some kids have their ability to work at their own pace. Some need a little more guidance and I just wanted to see our families reconnect and make sure that the channels of communication were there.”

At Ovid-Elsie High School, 155 students are failing at least one class while 62 more are failing two or more classes for a total of 277 students. At Ovid-Elsie Alternative High School, 21 students are failing at least one class.

At Ovid-Elsie Middle School, 143 students are failing classes and 84 students are failing one or more classes at E.E. Knight Elementary School.

One student said on Friday that there have been days she has spent 12 hours doing school work. Others feel overworked. Students say they have expressed their frustration and concern to teachers and administration, but they say nothing has been done to remedy the situation.

“We want it to be as peaceful as possible," said senior Bailey Mayville, who is failing multiple classes at Ovid-Elise High School. "This isn’t so much a fight, as we want to get through this together.”

About 20 to 30 students are planning a peaceful protest planned for next Tuesday at the Ovid-Elsie High School parking lot. They are hoping to get the administration’s attention.

“We started sending feedback to the administration, the principal, the teachers even saying here are our problems. Here’s what’s going on," Mayville said.

She and other students didn’t like the response they got back.

“Really empty answers," Mayville said. "They were just like, ‘Hey we’ll think about it. We’ll take it into consideration.’”

She believes administrators need to lower their expectations of both students and teachers alike.

“They need to listen to the feedback they’re getting and they need to try something different, even if it doesn’t work," Mayville said.

Cunningham said it’s going to take a village -- including parents, students and staff to help reconnect and re-engage students through this difficult time. He believes these failure rates are not unique to Ovid-Elsie schools.

“I think for teachers having to navigate through this, essentially they’re doing double duty," Cunningham said. "They’re teaching face-to-face kids and their online kids. So I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from it from the teaching side of it and the student side of it.”

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