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Florida mother writes open letter to DOE, parents urge schools for grace

Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 07, 2020

Distance learning is taking its toll on parents.

Families tell ABC Action News they’re spending hours a day trying to help their children online, plus tackling their full-time jobs at home.

One Central Florida mother even took to the internet to urge schools to give some grace to struggling parents.

Anne-Marie Wurzel says she just has one child but they had struggles even before the global pandemic began.

Her daughter who has special needs and accommodations at school also needs a lot of help from mom and dad while at home when it comes to E-learning.

Wurzel and her husband also run two businesses, which they are thankful for.

“Life has been insane but I think a lot of the expectations have remained,” Wurzel said.

So, she wrote an open letter to the Florida Department of Education.

In the letter, Wurzel opens up about her tear-filled struggle of helping her young ESE daughter with online work and balancing it all.

In the online post, she also makes valid points other families say they can relate to:

Can the Department of Education realize that:

1. I didn’t go to school to teach.
2. My child’s teacher didn’t go to school to run a virtual classroom or learn what’s appropriate for online instruction during a pandemic.
3. The learning environment is no longer cohesive or structured.
4. Parents are working from home, trying to keep their current jobs, or find a new job.
5. Children who are already struggling will find themselves frustrated, lagging behind even more.
6. There is no reason to add additional anxiety and stress to parents and children during a time of uncertainty.
7. As parents, we need to provide security and love.
8. Life lessons are also important, maybe even more so now than meeting educational milestones.
9. Realize that everyone’s best effort will look much different than in a structured classroom environment.
10. Hitting the pause button on education for a moment in time is OK.
11. Allowing our families to use this time to slow down, reconnect, have dinner together, plant a garden, pick flowers, go for a walk, watch movies, make cupcakes or stare at the sky, instead of rushing to complete assignments is important too.
12. Adding stress to an already impossible situation is not helpful.

“It’s kind of being graded as you’re winging it,” Wurzel said.

And the pressure is bringing other parents like Michelle Farmer, who also has children with special needs, to their breaking point.

“Yesterday we started at 8:30 a.m. and at 4 p.m. the ESE contact told me to stop she said stop, just put it away. She said stop. I was in tears. I was literally in tears.” Farmer said.

The Florida Department of Education has offered parents to hold their children back but parents tell ABC Action News it’s not an option they are considering.

“So they miss out on all of their friends, they are in class with kids that are younger than them, how is that fair to them?” Farmer said.

Anne-Marie Wurzel says she trusts in the teachers to get the the students caught up this fall, although she knows it could take some time.

“There is a nine-week period where everyone is going to struggle and trying to figure out how to work that into next year. That’s where teachers shine,” Wurzel said.