Some parents protest Lakewood School Board considering a return to in-person learning with surge in COVID cases

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 10:54 PM EST
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LAKEWOOD, Ohio (WOIO) - Another debate over COVID and the Classroom, this time, the argument is focused on the Lakewood School District.

The Lakewood School Board is considering returning teachers and students back to in-person learning, the hybrid model, even though the county is at the red alert level and daily cases of COVID-19 are dramatically increasing in Cuyahoga County and the state of Ohio.

A group of about 20 parents, students, and former teachers peacefully protested outside of Lakewood High School and even carried their signs into the auditorium as the Board of Education met Monday night. The group is asking the district to put safety first before possibly returning students and teachers to the Classroom on November 30th. Parents say the board has not announced that publicly but inside sources have alerted Lakewood families that it’s a move being considered.

Parent Ann Stahlheber says the district promised to stick with remote learning as long as the county was in the red, and she says they even had an agreement with the teacher’s union. “I feel like it’s really reckless decision to consider opening schools right now – given that the number of coronavirus cases are on the rise.”

Amy Bennett is a former Lakewood Teacher and has two young children. She says opening the schools would put that students, teachers, and staff as well as their families at risk.

“Basically, I can choose to keep my kids home for the rest of the year, and I will. So, this is not a me and mine issue; my kids will remain home. This is a, please don’t get our teachers sick. Lakewood teachers are amazing,” Bennett said.

The group says Lakewood Teachers are not allowed to speak out publicly against the district, so that’s why some parents have decided to be their voice.

The Lakewood School Board repeatedly said during the meeting that they will weigh many factors before deciding when to return students to the Classroom. Board member Michael Callahan says, “I’m very concerned like many others about getting students back to school when it’s safe. I stress as soon as it’s safe. But I’m very, very concerned about the spike in cases.”

But Board President Petrie Barcelona said now is not the time to answer parent Ken Conkle’s request. However, she did hear him out.

“Please survey the families with a formal, detailed survey. What level are you comfortable coming back at, would you be comfortable if kids take mask break,” Conkle said.

The majority of parents who addressed the board appeared to be against returning to in-person learning anytime soon, especially after a holiday when coronavirus numbers typically increase.

The Lakewood School Board did not vote on the issue and gave no indication when a decision will be made.

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