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Tahoma HS students challenge school board's fall learning plan amid coronavirus pandemic

Tahoma High School students are butting heads with their school board, upset with the changes made to their class schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — Tahoma High School students are butting heads with the Tahoma School Board, upset with the changes made to their class schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Students in the Tahoma School District will start the school year learning online from home, but it's the way the classes are arranged that has students worried.

High school students will take eight different classes during the school year. The first four subjects will be taken during the first quarter, and the second set of subjects during the second quarter.

During the third quarter students will switch back to the subjects they took during the first quarter, and during the final quarter students will switch back to the second-quarter subjects.

Credit: Tahoma School District

"Aside from AP and special education, it affects anyone in a math class, anyone in foreign language, I mean there are so many different classes. Imagine taking like a three-month gap between calculus. That's hard," said Bailey McCallister, a student representative for the Tahoma School Board.

In an email, Kevin Patterson, a spokesperson for the Tahoma School District, said "we understand that this schedule is not ideal but the committee, which included student and parent representatives, that looked at scheduling options chose this one because it worked best for the majority of students."

Patterson also said the way the schedule is set up will allow the school district to pivot to the regular schedule in the third quarter if in-person classes are allowed to resume.

"Our high school principals and teachers will be working on ways to assist students in AP classes or other subjects that are affected by the schedule. We want all of the students to be successful," said Patterson.

McCallister also said she understands the school board set up the schedule this way to limit student interaction in case students transition back to in-person classes.

However, she said she thinks safety would not be as much of a concern at that point.

"If we were taking the proper safety precautions, no, especially if the coronavirus has significantly died down and the cases have lowered. I would not personally be concerned provided we were all wearing masks and socially distancing," she said.

However, McCallister also said the school board received complaints during the spring while students were taking eight classes. Some students found the work overwhelming. This was taken into consideration while administrators, parents, and students worked to build the new schedule.

Tahoma students have started a petition to change the current schedule.

The petition proposes students take all eight classes, alternating subjects throughout the week instead of each quarter.

"I hope that [the petition] works and if it doesn't work I hope that at least some aspect of it is incorporated and honestly I do expect them to take it into serious consideration," said McCallister.

"They've given us countless opportunities to speak on the behalf of other students and I really appreciate that because I know they are not disregarding everything that we say and they are doing it for our health," she said.

The next scheduled school board meeting is expected to happen in late August, right before school starts. McCallister anticipates an earlier meeting to discuss the petition.

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