HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - At least 80 cars showed up for an “Only When It’s Safe” car rally in Hanover County. The rally was organized by Safe Return to Learn-Hanover, an organization asking school leaders to listen to the concerns of teachers and staff.
Hanover County is allowing parents to choose between two options: Sending their children back in-person, or remote online learning at home. Families have until July 31 to register for online learning, if not, they will default into in-person instruction for the first semester. The school system says the decision will be binding for the full first semester.
“As teachers, we want to be in the classroom with our students more than anyone. Given the circumstances, that just isn’t safe for anyone, and zero regards has been given to teachers. I won’t be able to choose virtual teaching because I’m not high risk. But my mom is, and I spend a lot of time helping take care of her,” said one Hanover teacher, who did not want to be identified.
The same teacher says he is also concerned about teaching in person because experience, as it stands right now, will not be the same for students.
“Teachers do understand that parents are under a huge burden as well. But for those clamoring that kids need to be in school; “school” isn’t where they’ll be going,” he explained. “Every single best teaching practice is going to be thrown out the window. Kids are going to be forced into sitting at their desk basically the entire day. It will be the most developmentally inappropriate environment I can think of. It goes against everything we try to do for kids.
The car rally met near Henry Clay Elementary School before heading to the Hanover County’s School Board offices. Cars drove in and out of the parking lot, as drivers honked their horns to get the attention of school leaders.
“I don’t believe the decision the school board is making is keeping everyone in our county safe, so I am out here to fight until they do change that decision,” said former HCPS student Lexi O’Neill. “[My parents] would not have let me go [to school] both of my parents are working on COVID-19.”
A spokesman with HCPS says it received nearly 12,000 responses to a ‘Return to Learn’ survey. The survey showed 76% of families who took the survey, were in favor of students returning to school in person.
“I am opting for full-time face-to-face teaching and for my children to go full-time face-to-face,” said HCPS teacher and parent Amanda Taylor.
Taylor says while the choices are not ‘perfect,' she is proud that Hanover County is offering choices to families.
“I want to represent a side that might not have been heard,” said Taylor, who drove by the school board office Wednesday. ”I think we take precautions and make these choices based on how we feel and our situation, I love all my fellow teachers I support them and I am glad they have options.”
Safe Return to Learn Hanover is asking that HCPS “Go the distance to enroll most of the district in remote learning for at least the first quarter. Allow the most at-risk student to receive in-school services, addressed on a case-by-case basis, determined by the professionals who are directly in charge of their education.”
A virtual town hall to answer families’ questions about the new school year is set to take place next Tuesday, July 28 at 7 p.m.
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