Alamo Heights High School senior expresses concern over at-home learning option

School district officials say online curriculum will be held to traditional standards

ALAMO HEIGHTS, Texas – With the summer winding down, there is a huge debate about students returning back to school in the San Antonio area regarding how they want to be instructed.

Some of them are excited to return to the classroom while others are choosing to learn from home in school districts where that option is available.

Alamo Heights Independent School District is one district where parents and students were able to make the decision. But there are concerns, including the quality of education.

For incoming Alamo Heights High School senior John Brookreson, the decision is clear on how he wants to continue learning after a mandatory 3-week online back-to-school initiative beginning mid-August.

“Of course, I chose face to face,” Brookreson said.

He and AHISD officials said they understand the need to implement strict safety guidelines for in-person learning amid the pandemic. But as far as those who will continue learning from home, there is an option called “Heights at Home,” which is part of AHISD’s restructuring plan.

Brookreson said there are several issues with the plan. He said the concerns are not limited to the at-home curriculum being adequate and fair.

“When you expect a student to go sit in front of and in front of a computer for eight hours, it’s straining on their eyes. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And you also have to look at, you know, the kindergartners, the first graders, the second graders. How are they going to get to do it?” Brookreson asked.

AHISD officials didn’t respond to the concerns about prolonged exposure to a screen, but said students who learn from home will be held to the same standards as those who choose to learn in person.

Part of a statement AHISD sent to KSAT on Tuesday said, “common planning and regular teacher collaboration between teachers of Heights at home and face-to-face teachers will ensure equity in the academic rigor of the course offerings.”

Brookreson has his doubts.

“Last time they tried to do online learning, it was a complete mess. Everybody really got a free hundred. They really didn’t have a way to set up grading,” Brookreson said.

KSAT spoke with students from other schools about how they feel about going back to school, in-person or online as part of KSAT Extra, which you can click here to read.

Extra content and extended interviews are on the KSAT 12 Streaming App that you can find on Roku, Apple TV or Amazon TV.

Below is AHISD’s full statement regarding the changes:

“The health and well-being of our AHISD community is at the forefront of all our decision making. We are committed to providing an engaging learning experience for our face-to-face learners as well as a robust online learning experience for our Heights at Home learners. We are excited for another year to begin. At the same time, we must recognize that this is an uncertain time in San Antonio. While we would love for all of our students to be on campus this fall, we recognize that some students may not be able to join us, for a variety of reasons.

AHISD is providing all families with a choice of two options: Face-to-Face instruction and Heights at Home remote instruction. We posted our AHISD Reopening Instructional Plan online for students and parents to understand the Heights at Home option. Common planning and regular teacher collaboration between teachers of Heights at Home and Face to Face teachers will ensure equity in the academic rigor of the course offerings.

In both face to face and Heights at Home settings, our traditional on-campus expectations for integrity are communicated through our district’s Student Handbook, Acceptable Use Policy Agreement, Academic Integrity Guidelines & Procedures, and Extracurricular Code. Students learning remotely are required to adhere to these stated policies and are subject to the stated consequences. Heights at Home students will additionally be required to adhere to a Heights at Home Academic Integrity Agreement.”