School Rally

Gracie and Conrad Robinette join adults in a rally at the Lewis County Courthouse Monday.

Lewis County parents made an emotional plea for county officials to reopen schools during a Sept. 14 meeting, detailing the many challenges they’ve faced with online learning since school started two weeks ago. Outside the meeting, their young children carried signs reading “OPEN OUR SCHOOLS!” 

The county’s current recommendation is that schools allow in-person classes for kindergarten and middle and high school technical classes. Earlier this month, county officials told the public that the recommendation would be revisited monthly.

School Rally

Residents rally at the Lewis County Courthouse asking for schools to be allowed to reopen.

“We are not even two weeks into online learning and my children and I are all ready to quit,” Alicia Howard, mother of five, told county officials. “So by the time you get to that next recommendation in four weeks, we may have already quit. We will not be engaged at all. We will be tapped out.”

Since Howard does not have reliable internet, her first grader can’t attend online class, and was given a thumb drive loaded with pre-recorded videos and lessons. But Howard described searching through the unorganized drive for 20 minutes before finding the correct material.

“To say that this is not functional is an understatement,” she said. 

Parents described unreliable internet, impossible work schedules, the mental health of their kids, as well as an inferior quality of education. 

“If our parents have to get to work, what are they supposed to do?” Winlock mom Renee Robinette said, rocking an infant. “They can’t be two places at once.”

Dawn Miles described her elementary-aged daughter coming to her in tears, unable to understand the material. 

“It’s mentally draining our children not being in school,” Miles said. “They’ve been thrown into educational chaos, that’s what I call it.”

Several parents also told county officials that their children’s Zoom calls have been “hacked” and inundated with inappropriate and pornographic material — something Commissioner Bobby Jackson has raised concern about in the past.

One Winlock mother, Summer Keene, said her daughter was exposed to such material on her first day of seventh grade this year. 

“The very first class, after the pledge of allegiance, the teacher is trying to do roll (call), and all of a sudden some very pornographic words came over the screen. My daughter was fortunately not one of the ones who clicked on the link,” Keene said. “My seventh grade daughter, who’s 12 years old … burst into tears. It was the worst moment of my entire adult life.”

Keene said a similar incident happened a second time before the school transitioned to a new software. But Keene and her husband are still wary about their child’s security online, and have stopped letting her to turn on the front camera during online class. Keene also described an assignment that made her uncomfortable — the teacher asked students to record a video of themselves answering questions and send it in for him to review.

“We’re taking a zero. We did not do that assignment,” Keene said. 

Robinette echoed the sentiment, arguing that the internet is not a safe place for children.

The group of parents demanded to have more say in the county’s decision process, which is currently headed by the Lewis County Schools Workgroup, composed of superintendents, pediatricians, and public health officials. County commissioners expressed support for the idea.

“I’m thankful I don’t have a child in the school district,” Commissioner Edna Fund said. “I’d probably be out there right with you guys.” 

Although most Lewis County schools are engaged in distance learning, the Mossyrock School District is operating under a hybrid model, and Boistfort School District voted over the weekend to begin offering in-person classes to all 91 of its students. 

Parents Monday said they’re envious of Mossyrock, and Commissioner Jackson said he’s hopeful other districts will follow suit despite the county’s recommendations otherwise.

 

 

 

(5) comments

sweetrose227

This “article,” if I even dare to call it that, is completely biased and lacks journalistic credibility. While I understand parents are frustrated and things are far from perfect, there is absolutely no acknowledgement of the Herculean task that districts are being asked to accomplish. We are literally living in historic times and having to innovate on the fly. There is plenty of room for improvement, but maybe instead of bashing everything, you should open your eyes and realize all the miracles preformed in America’s public schools by our educators. When we are finally, safely returned to in building education, show some respect, because you clearly never truly appreciated everything the schools do for our society.

Logger Jim

Washington Education Association approves this message.

grammapenny

It's terrible, and not planned out well. One class last maybe 15 minutes, then it's almost an hour till the next class.

Teresa Rapave

I agree. Some children need to have live instructors in front of them teaching. Not all children can learn the same way. As long as children not running fevers etc. Let them all into classrooms to learn. My child wanted to go back to school. Only thing I disagree with is making children stand out doors in rain or snow to get into school while waiting to get vitals checked or going to Boces. Thanks for listening.

YourNeighbor

“I’m thankful I don’t have a child in the school district,” Commissioner Edna Fund said. “I’d probably be out there right with you guys.” This is an excellent example of bi-partisanship, right here. I am also thankful I don't have a child in your school district. Just like Edna! Though, I actually have school aged children. But, honestly people. Even with the support of an entire school system, you can't figure out how to teach your own kids at home? It's easy to be a parent when you can expect others to do the heavy lifting for you, isn't it?

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