FARMINGTON — The back-to-school debate was front and center at the Davis School District Tuesday as parents rallied and pushed back against the district’s updated hybrid model for returning students to the classroom.
“Don’t you think this deserves a vote,” one woman asked during the public comment portion of the school board meeting.
There was no vote during the meeting, or even an official item on the school board agenda for the Davis School District’s recent change to the start of the new school year. But there was plenty of opposition at the meeting.
“It’s time our children stop being used as political pawns. This ends now,” a man told board members during the meeting, arguing in favor of returning to five days of classroom learning. “Have courage to actually put our children first.”
“Bottomline is if all those kids can go to Lagoon, all those kids can go to Walmart, they can go to school,” another woman said.
At the center of the debate is the number of days students would go to school. The district’s updated plan puts kids in the classroom two days a week — half of all students on Monday and Wednesday, and the other half on Tuesday and Thursday, based on their last name. The rest of the time will be learning online.
Other parents expressed support for the plan online, and two teachers voiced their support for the hybrid model during the meeting.
“This is going to help us to be able to keep our schools open longer. All of us together we can make this work,” one teacher said.
Parents and students are protesting @DavisSchools choice to do a hybrid schedule in the fall. They want to be in school 5 days a week, not 2 days with the rest online. #KSLTV@KSL5TVpic.twitter.com/h8NztYf9Or— Morgan Wolfe (@MorganWolfeKSL) August 4, 2020
Another parent and teacher pointed to the inability to practice physical distancing in the classroom with all of the students back at once. The district said the updated plan is based on advice from the Davis Health Department. Still, it’s only added to the concern of some.
Some parents said they are concerned about the lack of attention students with special needs are being given during this decision making process, and they want their students to be in school a full five days a week.
“The extra challenge is that they are already disadvantaged from learning like their peers. They need every opportunity they can to get that individual attention from their teacher and they certainly wont get it with only two days in school,” one parent said.
“My special ed student needs to learn face to face,” said Mary Ehrhart, one of many disappointed parents who rallied before the meeting in support of a return to five days of classroom learning a week. “They already are disadvantaged from learning like their peers. They need every opportunity they can to meet with a teacher.”
The Davis School District is the second-largest district in the state with 73,000 students. Roughly 5,000 of them are signed up for online-only learning.