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What parents want: Families divided on return to school

Superintendent Matt Moore said Tuesday most of the parents and teachers he has heard from have been supportive of his decision to keep kids out of Jessamine County school buildings for the first two weeks of classes because of a disturbing rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the community. But parents who disagree with his decisions have valid concerns, and he takes those concerns seriously.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get the students back into school safely and as soon as possible,” he said.

Rather than going with the governor’s recommendation to delay in-person learning until Sept. 28, Moore said he and his staff are working closely with the Jessamine County Health Department and examining local COVID-19 data to see when it may be the right time for students to go back.

Before the governor’s recommendation, the Jessamine district’s school board voted 3-2 to have students return to schools on Aug. 26, but using his executive emergency authority, the superintendent decided the first two weeks would be virtual or non-traditional instruction, which for most students means doing classes entirely online.

The Jessamine Journal reached out on its Facebook page to local parents and community members to see what they think of the decision.

Here is what some of them said.

“I agree with and support Matt Moore,” Jessica Upton said. “Health and safety come first.”

Chris Hager said that “a special needs child like mine is going to suffer” if online learning is the only option.

Emma Pierson said there is “no plan in place” to help parents who work full-time and during scheduled online instruction, and for the needs of students in special education classes.

Michelle Houck said she agreed with the two-week delay because it gives the district a chance to see how in-person learning is going in other places.

“If you see there are outbreaks, then adjustments can be made,” she said.

“Ultimately, it’s his decision, and he is doing the best he can to protect our kids and the teachers and staff,” Alisha Brewer-McGee said.

Jackie Stakelin said parents need to set a good example for their kids.

“Our children are watching us. They’re sponges and will react to how we react,” she said. “I’m ready for them to go back and believe it’s what’s for the best, but I’ll choose to remain positive for my children’s and my sanity.”

Erica Doerr said she agreed with the school board’s original decision to allow parents and children the option of either virtual or classroom instruction, but the second option was “taken away.”

“Those of us that wanted to send our children to school understand the risks and cannot hold the school responsible,” she said.

“What’s the point of having a board if one man can override its decision?” Phillip Sulla asked.

Some objected to the phrasing of The Journal’s question that Moore decided to “override” the school board’s decision.

He did not, Darrell Jordan said.

“The board made their decision, and then Matt was able to use the power he has to call for NTI days,” he explained.

Steve Boyd accused the superintendent of “pandering to the governor,” and called his action “ridiculous.”

Virginia Crowe disagreed with Moore’s decision.

“I have a child that is on the spectrum, and she needs the classroom instruction,” she said. “I am not a teacher. I cannot do what they do.”

Carrie Amerson Davis expressed concern about children that don’t have internet access or who are not safe at home or are hungry.

Vicky Sandford replied that the community needs to address those problems and not expect the schools to do so.

The school district does provide meals to students when they are out of school.

Ashley Gill said she doesn’t think some understand that if a child or the teacher is diagnosed with COVID-19, the entire class is quarantined for 14 days by the Health Department.

Sarah Whitney Cox suggested that “we be more focused on working together as a community” rather than “creating a divide and pointing fingers.”

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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