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Parents urging district to do away with 'simultaneous teaching' model

About half of teachers in Pinellas County are teaching a classroom of in-person students while also instructing online students.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With a few weeks of the school year under our belts, teachers and students are starting to figure out the new normal.

In Pinellas County, the simultaneous teaching model has been a point of tension. That's when educators are teaching both in the classroom and students online at the same time.

RELATED: Pinellas teachers union, district no closer to solution on 'simultaneous teaching' concerns

Amanda Loeffler has three children in Pinellas County Schools, one in elementary school and two in middle school. The two middle schoolers are sharing their virtual teacher with a classroom of in-person students. She says her kids aren't getting the attention they need.

"I had friends calling me in tears going this isn't working. I've never felt so distracted in my life. I've been teaching for many years but I feel like a first-year teacher and I don't know who to go to or how to ask for help," Loeffler said of her teacher friends.

She started an online petition urging the district to do away with simultaneous instruction and have teachers committed to one or the other.

According to the district, 52 percent of Pinellas County educators are doing simultaneous teaching.

Tracey McConnell is a Pinellas County elementary teacher. She's only teaching kids online and says that's hard enough. McConnell has a 9th-grade son and 7th-grade daughter. She says all of their classes are taught by teachers doing the simultaneous model.

"I honestly don't know how you can do both of those things," she said.

At a meeting with the teachers union Monday night, district leaders said they would consider surveying the staff to see how the simultaneous teaching is going. 

The topic did not come up Tuesday at a five-hour school board workshop.

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