Parents in Mason, Michigan, are organizing to demand students return to classrooms full time as coronavirus-related school closures drag on.
Students in the Mason School District currently go in-person two days a week and virtually the other three.
“I feel the options don’t work for everyone,” parent Amber Rodriguez, who was one of 514 parents to sign the petition, told WILX.
“These kids’ mental health is struggling a lot. Especially a lot of the older kids. They need to be in school. They need to have their sports,” she said, referring Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) ban on winter contact sports that was recently lifted after parents put pressure on the governor.
Neighboring districts have already shifted to fully in-person, proving “that option is safe,” parents said.
“I’m not understanding why my child can go only two days a week to learn but then the school is unlocked and he’s able to get into the weight room five days a week,” Rodriguez told the news station.
Mason superintendent Ronald Drzewicki argued the district’s hybrid model “provides flexibility to possibly increase in-person instruction in the future. At the direction of the Mason Board of Education, the administration is continuing to look for ways to meet the in-person learning needs of as many students as possible.”
Meanwhile, the number of failing grades is on the rise across the state.
Michigan students saw more Fs on their report cards than usual this year as many kids have struggled to keep up with online-only classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the efforts of teachers to keep students on track, K-12 schools have faced immense challenges with conducting distance learning. The abrupt closing of schools last March forced teachers to pivot quickly to remote learning at an unprecedented scale.
School leaders say students at all grade levels have struggled with online classes because of the lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers, as well as other issues such as technical glitches and the lack of access to technology.
“It takes a lot to be an online learner, and a lot of kids weren’t ready for that,” Jenison High School Principal Brandon Graham said. “We discovered that there were a lot of barriers that prevented them from being successful.”
Nearly one-third of students who took a class online received a failing grade.
In Detroit, schools eliminated D and F grades after “about 20% of elementary and middle school students and 35% of high school students failed at least one class in the first quarter.”
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, district administrators are leaving it up to teachers whether they return in person, who have “been pleading with the district to keep from returning to the classrooms until there have been more teachers vaccinated,” for the coronavirus, according to WCCO.
A “Hennepin County judge ruled that the district can’t force teachers back into classes if they’ve got a reason to continue to work from home,” the radio station said.