Protesters demand more in-person classes for Springfield students
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Many people are upset about Springfield’s plan for students returning to school next month. Parents, staff and students protested the plan in downtown Springfield Monday evening.
Students can learn in a classroom two days per week, while taking online classes the other three, or do virtual learning full time. Parents said those choices leave them with little options and they’re concerned for their students.
Crystal Davis says she was devastated to hear the choices she had to make for her daughters’ education this fall.
“I don’t think they’ll learn as they should, I don’t think they’ll grow as they should,” Davis said.
Davis took her children to Park Central Square to protest Monday, demanding Springfield Public Schools allow students in the classroom five days a week.
“It doesn’t feel like there’s an option. It feels like the decisions are being made for us. It feels like a dictatorship,” she said.
Stephen Hall, with Springfield Public Schools, said the district expected some parents to be unhappy with the re-entry plan.
“There’s been a lot of intentionality, a lot of time that’s gone into a very deliberate plan, a thoughtful plan that’s trying to provide options for families. As well as acknowledging the reality of the pandemic,” Hall said.
Kayleen Lee’s child is going into pre-school this fall. That age group was given the same two options as other students for either virtual or seated classes.
“I’m not sure how we can consider two days in person to be seated necessarily. It’s still more online than anything,” Lee said.
Lee is also a paraprofessional with the district. She said students need to be in classrooms just as much for their safety as their education.
“We have a lot of kiddos that receive a lot of neglect and abuse and school is sometimes their only safety net,” Lee said.
Hall said the plan can change as the semester goes on.
“If exposures continue to go up, we may need to further refine our plan,” he said. “If exposures decline we may be able to increase the number of days we’re seating in the classroom.”
Davis said the district should offer five day classes to start the semester, like many other local districts. She said she’d even consider moving her children to another system to have that option.
“My faith in this school district has diminished so much recently. It’s devastating,” Davis said.
While some protested on the street, more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition demanding for that five-day, in-person option. As of right now, parents are asked to choose between the two-day classes, or full-time online learning by Friday, July 31.
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