Parents urge school officials to reopen buildings for in-person classes

Parents and students gather outside the Spotsylvania County Public Schools Administration Center to demand buildings reopened for in-person learning.

Robyn Schwenk is a full time registered nurse in Fredericksburg.

As of late, she’s been spending more time out of the office helping her child with the challenges that come with distance learning.

“I’ve had to leave work many times,” she said.

When she’s not at home to help with computer and other technical issues her elementary-school student is with her grandparents.

“And they can’t help… they’re in their 70s,” she added.

Schwenk is a member of a growing number of parents who think say children should be allowed back in school, in person. Her children are missing out on traditional education, she said.

She, and other parents and students gathered Monday night outside the Spotsylvania County Public Schools headquarters to protest, in an effort to get the school board to reopen schools. Since August 17, students have been attending classes 100% virtually.

The school division says it plans to send some students back to in-person classes in October, after the end of the first nine weeks of school. Similar plans are being considered in Prince William and Stafford counties.

“The online learning really stinks,” said Hayley, 13, who attends Battlefield Middle School. “It takes a long time to get [email] responses from my teacher.”

“We’re only learning for about three hours a day. That’s half of what we doing before,” said Ryan, 15, a sophomore at Courtland High School.

Spotsylvania schools are one of many in the region, to include Stafford and Prince William counites, to return to 100% online this fall. Some counter-protesters who gathered outside the schools headquarters want to keep it that way.

“We’ve had a few hiccups, but we’re adapting well to virtual learning,” said Marc Broklawski, who has two children, ages 11 and 14, in public schools, and a wife who is a teacher in Spotsylvania.

He wants the county to complete a survey of school buildings, and what types of ventilation systems each building has. Many, he says, need to be upgraded if children and teachers are going to go back to the classroom to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

The counter protestors signs stated teachers and students shouldn’t return to the classroom until it’s safe,” and that’ll be when the reported infection rate is lower that five percent, added Broklawski.

Right now in the Rapphannock region, it’s at 7 percent.

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