'I am exhausted': Students at Vallejo's MIT Academy say 8 hour distance learning day is too much

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- MIT Academy students in Vallejo recently cut class in protest to their nearly eight hour distance learning day.

Junior Kristanee Sturm-Johnson spoke with ABC7 News at the end of her school day.

"I am exhausted right now. I could take a nap," said Sturm-Johnson.

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She's one of nearly 2,000 people who have signed a change.org petition calling on the school to reduce its distance learning workload.

"I just don't feel I'm doing as good as I could be doing. I'm very distracted and tired and I'm not really and I'm not really motivated to work at the moment," said Sturm-Johnson.

MIT Academy is a public charter school in Vallejo. Sixth through 12th graders are distance learning from 830 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Friday they have a combination of advisory time, office hours and workshops from 10 a.m. to approximately 1 p.m.

"She's literally in her room all day long except for when I'm able to get her out to come eat," said mom Kristin Sturm.

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Earlier this week students and parents attended a meeting to share their concerns.

"There was a lot of emotional kids crying and begging them to change our schedule," said Sturm-Johnson.

"Not to mention there's parents not working, some of these kids are stepping up to provide for their families," said Sturm.

Superintendent David Yoshihara was at the meeting.

"It is not unanimous that it's overwhelming but yes, for sure, for some people it's overwhelming, for those that came Tuesday night it's overwhelming, so we need to discuss that and talk about that and figure out how to help," said Yoshihara.

Maureen Healy is a child psychologist.

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"To have them have sustained learning for that long is unsustainable it's not productive, it passes the point of where they're really learning and that's unfortunate," said Healy.

Yoshihara says the school needed to develop a schedule that could quickly pivot to in-person learning as the year progresses.

A survey was sent to families late this week with three options; keep the schedule as is, hold distance learning from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., five days a week or further reduce the daily hours but extend the school year.

Those choices don't appeal to Kristanee or her mom.

"A reminder that we are in the middle of a pandemic," said Sturm.

"It's really affecting the kids, it's really affecting me," said Sturm-Johnson.

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos here.



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