Lexington Richland 5 parents protest for 5 day in-person learning

Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 11:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Parents protested outside of Irmo High School on Monday night, calling for Lexington-Richland School District 5 to offer five days a week face to face learning.

The school district held an open board meeting at 6 p.m.

There were about 100 parents that turned out for the protest, with many saying they are frustrated with the hybrid option the district is currently offering and called on district officials to change it. The parents all had various messages on their posters, but they all had one message: they want to see a five day a week in-person learning option.

“I’ve got a high powered kid who needs the face to face instruction,” Todd Howell, said.

Lexington Richland 5 started school on September 8th with a hybrid model, where students attend two days a week in person and virtually the rest of the week.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t super opposed to the hybrid model, but after a small week of it, it’s excruciating,” Cali Foxworth, a parent in the district, said.

Many parents worried that their students aren’t getting the instruction they need.

“I’m a sole provider for my family, so I have to work at the same time and I also have to parent,” Foxworth said.

“Their mental health is just as important as their education and I feel like they’ve been out of the norm for so many months now,” Jennifer Valek said.

Jennifer Valek said the parents want Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton and district officials to give a timeline for 5 days a week learning.

“October 8th is still a goal for us, if not sooner, and I would like for her to give us something she’s looking at numbers-wise that’s going to get us to that goal,” Valek said.

Parents said they want to see safety protocols followed, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

“The numbers don’t scare me, and face to face doesn’t scare me,” Howell said.

Melton said during the board meeting the district is following the case numbers closely and working towards reopening fully.

“Many hoped that we would make an announcement regarding October the 8th, we simply aren’t prepared for that,” Melton said.

The board member discussed a motion to direct the Superintendent to plan to open for five days a week in person on October 8th, unless evidence was presented to the board before that time that proved that opening five days a week wasn’t safe or possible. The motion failed with four members voting against it.

The board instead passed a motion encouraging the superintendent to work to open on October 8th, or when she deems it safe to do so. The next board meeting will be held on September 28th.

Superintendent Melton said in a statement following the board meeting that “School District Five values and appreciates the input of our community as we navigate the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 has presented.

As a district, the hybrid model option was designed as a temporary, transitional model. Our commitment has been to return to five-day instruction, as soon as possible, with a focus on safety, security, and compliance with local and state guidelines.”

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