Parents, students, teachers rally for return to in-class learning in Wake County
Posted October 1, 2020 8:19 p.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2020 10:34 p.m. EDT
Cary, N.C. — About 200 people gathered in Cary Thursday evening, calling for public school students in Wake County to be allowed to return to the classroom.
Parents, students and teachers rallied outside the Wake County Public School System's headquarters. Their rally started just before 5 p.m. and emphasized the desire for their children to go back to the classroom.
Parents said they’re noticing their children’s grades and emotional health have suffered during the remote learning the district has been in since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. One student said he feels like he’s not getting a good education and believes online learning has brought on too many challenges.
“Definitely, the internet can be a problem – camera problems, mic problems and you can’t look at the teacher and talk to the teacher, all that kind of stuff,” Cannon Bergestron said.
On Thursday, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen hosted a town hall with the NC association of educators to answer questions on the state’s reopening plan for schools.
“We are trying to understand those long term impacts and because it’s so new we don’t know so we still have a lot to learn,” Cohen said.
Wake County schools have been in all virtual learning since Aug. 17. Currently, Wake county students will slowly be allowed back in the classroom beginning in late October.
But, for some, that’s not soon enough.
“I am here today to fight for the rights of our children,” said Tara Johnson, who has five children in Wake County schools. She said keeping schools closed is causing more harm than good.
“That’s not the health issue that’s at hand, it’s mental health issues, that’s what our children are suffering from, and educational inequality,” Johnson said.
Keith Sutton, the head of the Wake County Public School System’s Board of Education, issued a statement on Thursday.
“I feel confident the district made the best decision. There are obviously those who feel we are rushing back and some who feel we are not coming back soon enough. We feel we made the best decision for staff faculty and the community.”
Sutton also said the district is still weighing the risk and benefit or returning to school. He said the last thing they want to do is send kids back to school and have an outbreak.
The Wake County Board of Education is slated to meet in person next Tuesday for a work session and meeting. Parents said that, if nothing is done, they will be back to rally again.