DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Parents and students rallied outside of the Douglas County School District office on Tuesday and called for the return of in-person learning for all students.
One parent, Jamie Wooldridge, waved her sign along the sidewalk as cars drove by and honked in support.
“Pretty much all kids are suffering from remote learning, whether it’s academically, socially or emotionally,” she said.
DCSD preschool and elementary schools returned to full-time in-person learning on Tuesday, but middle school and high school students returned to remote learning.
Wooldridge is a mother of four and while two of her kids are back in class, the other two are learning online.
“Online learning is not for everybody," she said. "I have two kids myself that suffer from attention deficit disorder."
Dozens of parents and students attended the rally on Tuesday evening.
Sebastin Ruccolo, a senior at Thunder Ridge High School, admitted his grades have dropped with online learning. He said it’s difficult to keep up.
“For a person like me, in-school learning and having that direct teacher response is extremely important,” Ruccolo said.
Bella Carpinelli, a junior at Mountain Vista High School, said it’s not fair she can go shopping and travel but not attend classes in-person.
“My teachers have even told me that’s we’ve lost half of our education this year,” she said.
At the DCSD board of education meeting, parents and teachers who called in for comment didn’t hold back during their three-minute session. Many echoed that online learning isn’t working for their children. One mother stated that her two daughters have experienced weekly break-downs due to schoolwork and others who called-in pointed to declining mental health.
Data released during the school board meeting found that high school students failing more than one class increased 4% in the fall of 2020 compared to the fall of 2019. The percentage would have been higher, but the school district changed the grading scale.
Douglas County School Interim Superintendent District Corey Wise presented plans to get kids back in school.
His goal is to get high school and middle school students into hybrid learning by Jan. 25, but he said that the timeline can change based on the COVID-19 infection rate.
Wise added that he met with the governor’s office staff and requested additional personal protective equipment and signed up for take-home COVID-19 tests. The tests will be paid for by the state the first month, he added.
The school district is currently looking to hire nurses and transportation staff.
Wise said he expects nurses to be vaccinated this week and teachers are expected to follow.
While the coronavirus infection rate is trending in the right direction, Wise says the B.1.1.7. variant strain of COVID-19, which spreads faster, can throw off plans in place. He said the school district must be flexible.
“We will continue to survey and ask and collaborate to work out a plan and we will keep you updated,” Wise said.
Wooldridge said her family has abided by the school district plans for months and she and many parents are tired of waiting — she wants her kids back in school.
“There needs to be an option for kids and families that want to be in-person,” Wooldridge said.
The board of education will hold its next meeting on Jan. 18.