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Pinellas parents still pleading for district to do away with 'simultaneous teaching'

Parents who signed up for online learning say their kids get half of the live instruction from teachers compared to when they were in the classroom.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The tension over "simultaneous teaching" in Pinellas County continues to be brought up by parents.

About 52-percent of educators in Pinellas County are simultaneous teaching-- that's when a teacher has a classroom of in-person students along with online students at the same time.

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

For more than a month, parents have been vocalizing concerns about teachers being stretched too thin and their children not getting a quality education. The teachers' union has also been pushing for the district to do away with the option.

Amanda Loeffler started an online petition urging the district to get rid of the simultaneous instruction and have teachers committed to one or the other. She also speaks directly to the school board during the public comments portions of their board meetings.

Last week, the district was considering sending out anonymous teacher surveys to better gauge how the educators were handling the new teaching demands. But at a school board meeting this week, district leaders revealed they weren't going to do that and would stick to small focus groups instead.

RELATED: Pinellas County School Board discusses 'simultaneous' teaching and relief for educators

The teachers' union along with some parents want the district to do the surveys.

Loeffler said her kids constantly run into issues, "I can't get into my class or the links aren’t working and I’m like reach out to your teacher. That’s all I’ve got so this poor teacher is still being tech support and they’re trying to be two teachers at one time."

Nancy Velardi, President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association said the focus groups have only included 30 out of 7,000 teachers. She says it's not enough but the district doesn't want to face the harsh results that would come of mass anonymous surveys.

School board member Rene Flowers weighed in at the most recent board meeting saying, "Not giving the name for some people gives them more of a sense of security."

However, district leaders said focus groups are more effective.

"We had the option of doing a survey and what we were concerned about is we would get back an anonymous survey that would just tell us there’s lots of people out there that have issues but we wouldn’t know who," explained Deputy Superintendent William Corbett.

Loeffler and other parents want the district to conduct surveys for teachers, other staff members, and even parents.

A district spokesperson said most elementary teachers are dedicated to either in-person students or online lessons and the simultaneous teachers are mostly at the middle and high school levels.

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