RPS parents advocate for students to return to class | KAALTV.com

RPS parents advocate for students to return to class

Created: January 09, 2021 10:49 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Parents are uncertain about the future if they have kids in the Rochester Public School system. They want to see their middle and high schoolers back in class. 

This comes after the school board approved hybrid learning for elementary students this week. They'll be in the classroom this month. 

"We've fallen into this culture of allowing six school board members to make decisions that impact these students' lives and I feel strongly they're not listening,” parent Sara Clausen said.

Clausen is a parent to a fifth-grader and a seventh-grader. She says enough is enough.

"I am not only concerned for not only my kids, but other kids as well that really are falling through the cracks,” Clausen said.

Sara says she understands the pandemic is real but says the school board needs to let kids be kids safely.

"I feel very confident that we can do it safely, following the CDC guidelines, mask up, sanitize. Other districts everywhere including districts that are larger than Rochester are making it happen, and we're not,” Clausen said.

Parents in the opposition started a Facebook group called "RPS - Prioritize Our Children” and there's even a petition stating the return to learn plan is unacceptable. It has more than 1,200 signatures.

Another parent, Brooke Werneburg, agrees. Now is the time to have kids back in school, "My kids are surviving but they're not thriving like they were when they were in a physical school classroom. I worry we are losing that motivational learning and that excitement for learning that is going to be hard to replace,” Werneburg said.

Her daughter Avery is a junior at Mayo High School. She misses being with her friends and competing in sports, "The school board is trying to protect people and I think that's really important. I think it's important to keep people safe and healthy. We also are missing a lot of social interaction from school,” Avery Werneburg said.

Back in November, school officials say in order to address the mental health needs of older students,  they changed their academic schedule and included an "off" day on Wednesdays. Mayo High School calls this day "Student Support Wednesdays." 

On this day, students can receive 1-on-1 or small group support, mental health counseling, academic assistance, or just time to socialize with their peers virtually.

RPS states in their Safe Schools Learning Model it's only focusing on elementary students after the governor announced mid-December they could return to in-person or hybrid learning. The district adds that community transmission rates of the virus are still too high for secondary students to return.

The board is expected to meet and discuss its plans again on February 2 whether to continue with the same learning model or adjust to a different one.

During its meeting, RPS noted other parents and teachers say they feel it’s not safe yet to let kids back in. 

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