ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — Over 300 days.
That’s how long Arlington Public Schools students have been out of the classroom. Parents and students, who are fed up with online learning, rallied on Saturday in protest.
“I want to explain how it’s very to listen on online school, and how kids aren’t really learning anything,” said Lily Soikin, an APS student.
This month, Arlington Public Schools is expected to announce when its hybrid instructional model will begin. But the clock is ticking, and parents say the school system should have decided by now.
“All they are going to have is a memory of hunkering down in the basement, staring at an iPad. This is no foundation for a life; this is not a way to go through childhood,” said Christopher Schons, APs parent.
Parents are wondering why their children’s mental health is not being taken more seriously.
Parent and psychologist Dr. Deanna Caputo say that the longer students stay out of school, the longer it will take for them to recover from the anxiety and depression virtual learning has caused.
“We’re so focused on the COVID numbers, that we’re not doing the trade-off between physical health and mental health, and is it any less awful if a child dies than if somebody else dies of COVID?” said Caputo.
The shutdown is forcing parents and students to make the difficult decision, to stay online, or enroll their children in private education — where students can attend classes in person.
“Because of online school, I am going to have to switch schools and go to a private one. I’m not that happy about that, and I am going to miss my teachers,” said Soikin.
The rally’s message was clear — parents want their children back in school with their teachers, now.
“They’re truly so essential to these children’s lives,” said Caputo. “It’s like co-parenting almost with them. We need them back in school with our kids, in person.”
The rally comes a week after State Senator Chap Petersen announced a push for decreased funding for districts that don’t offer in-person instruction.