Mother organizes petition for LR5 schools to return to full in-person learning

Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 6:19 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Winter break is leaving Lexington-Richland School District Five quiet over the holidays, but some parents are trying to make some noise.

Nicole Dozier is a mother of two students in the district and organized a petition that as of this writing, has 267 signatures.

It states in part:

“It is our belief that the parents, teachers, and admin in favor of FIVE DAYS FACE TO FACE instruction for our students have been unable to make their voices heard. WE WANT TO CHANGE THAT!”

It calls for a day of protest from like-minded parents:”In order to draw attention to and increase awareness of our growing concerns, and to express our desires for transparency, we are coordinating a one day, group “refusal of virtual instruction” prior to data review for reentry taking place after the holiday break. (Date TBD)”

Dozier confirmed with WIS on Tuesday that no date was set. She said she organized it because the anxiety in her two LR5 children were up, while their ability to learn was down.

“My 5th grader is just so frustrated, he came home to me and one night he was finishing up some virtual work, and he was just crying because he felt like he wasn’t going to be able to figure it out,” she said.

The district is currently in Winter Break. Before the break, 4k-6th graders who were enrolled in the hybrid model were learning in-person 4-days-a-week.

7th through 12th graders enrolled in the hybrid program were learning in-person 2-days-a-week.

The older group was learning in-person 4-days-a-week until a mass teacher call-out forced the school board to revert to 2-day-a-week in early December.

The concern of teachers and administrators was a lack of staffers to safely run the schools.

As of the evening of Dec. 22, the district is self-reporting 20 staffers who are positive for COVID-19, with another 126 quarantined.

Dozier said she understands the safety concerns surrounding the virus, but said it’s become a mental health issue for her family.

“I’m kind of at a loss for [my son]. I encourage him, but we’ve lately had to kind of take a stance of just choosing mental health over anything else and different choices.”

She went on to state:

“We’re making choices to say you know what? It’s okay that we didn’t get logged in, it’s okay that you’re going to be marked absent for that class because it is what it is.”

CDC data through early December shows 30 percent of South Carolina adults showed symptoms of Anxiety disorder. The national average was 11 percent during the summer of 2019.

District spokesperson Laura McElveen said the district would be transitioning students to a 4 days a week in-person model students return to the classroom on Jan. 7.

She said the goal is to return students to 5-days-a-week in-person learning on Feb. 1.

Board Chair Jan Hammond said she wants to transition to the 5 days model, and the district is working to shore up staffing.

“Our school board and I think [Superintendent] Dr. Melton is. We’re all committed to getting back to 5 days. We’ve got to be sure we have staffing so the schools are safe, and when I say safe I don’t mean the COVID virus, I mean safe that we have enough supervision,” Hammond said.

Chapin Middle School teacher Jessica Bower said she was one of the teachers who called out in late November.

She said she did it in part due to solidarity with her colleagues teaching high school, however, Bower said it’s important all sides of the issue attempt to work together.

“I think we have to be mindful of making a decision that is going to be at least better for the most amount of people,” she said.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25.

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