This is the attachment...We, as a stake presidency, desire to have our youth be together (in person) for seminary. During these difficult times, we feel that it is important that they continue to have formal gospel instruction and we also feel that it is important for them to have the opportunity to be together(safely) to do so. We have decided to have seminary classes meet together in person at the beginning of this school year. This falls under state guidelines for religious activities and we have the approval of our Area Authority. We have visited with all of our teachers throughout the stake about this decision and all are supportive. This will require some planning and adjustments that we will need to make quickly. Please be aware that if your family decides that you do not want to participate in this in-person seminary there will be an online option. This online option will be very different than what took place this Spring – both in participation requirements and content (see attachment).
The students and teachers who participate in the in-person seminary experience (which we hope will be most of the students) will all be required to wear masks and practice social distancing ... [snip] ...
We would ask that you respond to this email with the answer to this simple question:
• Will your child/children participate in the in-person (meeting every day of the week in-person) seminary classes as described in this email?
• If not, will they participate in the online seminary program (again please see attachment to help you make that decision)?
We respectfully ask that you discuss this as a family and respond within 48 hours of receiving this email (by end of the day Tuesday, August the 18th).
Thank you for your devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the opportunity to let us join with you in helping our youth to understand and live its teachings.
This email rubs me the wrong way.Online Seminary Fall 2020
Online seminary is an everyday commitment.
The following is a summary of some of the requirements and expectations for those who will participate in online seminary.
Expectations (from the church’s online training given to seminary teachers):
Instructors should establish and maintain class standards with students, parents, and leaders before the first synchronous (online) experience.
To receive credit for being present, students must:
...be sitting at a table or desk (not lying down or reclined).
...be appropriately dressed.
...have a working camera connected, on, and centered on his/her face to receive credit.
...have a working microphone to unmute and respond when they would like to share or when called upon.
...have a separate set of scriptures or a device with scriptures so they can read and participate without pausing their interaction with the video-conference software.
...eliminate distractions from the environment (unruly family members, pets, breakfast, make-up, homework)
Note: Students must login by the class start time to avoid being marked tardy. Students missing more than 15 minutes of class will be marked absent.
Online teachers will be using the canvas program for assignments two or three days a week. Students will be required to complete the assignments each day within the allotted time. If the student does not complete the assignment in the allotted time, there will be a make-up assignment given.
First and foremost, I know that the church has an online (self study) seminary curriculum. I believe that the reason why such an emphasis is made on in person seminary is that the leadership hopes that the group will bond together over the hardship of attending in person every day at such an early hour. This email offers an online option that I was pleased to consider for my children. It was only upon reading the attachment that I came to understand what the online option really contained. It is more like a zoom meeting seminary than the self-study self paced option I had hoped for.
Second is the language of expectation and obligation peppered throughout the email. Perhaps we had grown used to emails detailing church reopening plans that always make the caveat that nobody should feel pressured to attend if they do not feel ready. This email has a decidedly different tone. "We desire" "It is important" "We have decided" "We hope" (most will participate in person) "respond to this email with the answer to this simple question" "within 48 hours" The attachment is worse. "everyday commitment" "requirements and expectations" "must" x7 "required"
"To receive credit..." I am currently wondering what the benefit of receiving credit would be. What can I do with my seminary "credit"? I understand that seminary participation is not required to attend a church university. Is this like me getting "credit" for attending Sunday School?
DW and I discussed this with DW and asked her if this is something that she would like to do and she declined. We have not responded to the email because we feel that to respond back with a "no" might invite questions or pressure to become a "yes". We have decided that when people do eventually track us down to ask why our daughter isn't participating we will respond that we were really hoping for an online self study version and that DD really needs her sleep. I do not expect that people will fully support our justification. Surely all the kids need sleep, yet many parents are willing to make the sacrifice. Why should we and our child be any different?