RSD Community Responds To Reopening Guidelines
Parents from around the RSD community gathered Thursday before the Board of Education (BOE) at the Rockwood Administrative Annex in Eureka to protest RSD’s reopening plans.
The plan states students have two options for returning to school in the fall: an online option or a hybrid of in-school and online learning.
Dozens of people held signs in protest of not being given a five-day in-school option.
A limited number of people were allowed in the boardroom, so patron commenters were shuffled in and out to allow dozens of people to speak before the Board.
Opposition to RSD’s current decision
Lucy Dean, sophomore, was one of these speakers.
“I was a 4.0 gpa student before Spring Break, but online I did not maintain the grades that I had,” Dean said. “Students like me need to be in school with teachers who also want to be there in order to achieve our full potential.”
Dean said she spoke in front of the Board because she wanted to make sure students’ voices were heard in the decision of how to return to school.
“It is very important to me that schools be open five days a week, and I am sure it is important to other students as well,” Dean said. “I am hoping that what they heard at the meeting will give them cause to reconsider.”
MHS has the largest student body in the RSD with about 2,400 students, which has brought up concerns about the ability to social distance .
Dean said the number of students who will actually attend school will be reduced to a more manageable number because of families who may choose the virtual option. She said if people wear masks and facilities are sanitized, it would be safe to go back to school.
Jason Moore, whose daughter attends MHS, also spoke in favor of a five-day in-school option.
When he spoke in front of the Board, Moore talked about how his daughter was devastated about the changes to her final school year.
“And I can guarantee that there’s another 10,000, 15,000, 20,0000 other kids, however many are in the district, that are having the same reaction,” Moore said to the BOE. “As a father, as a parent, as a husband, as a neighbor, I cannot tell you how upset I am on behalf of my family, and on behalf of everyone else’s, including yours.”
Moore said he wants RSD to offer both five-day in-school and five-day remote options. He said students who want to go to school or who psychologically need to, should be allowed to go for five days a week.
If RSD chooses to only allow students to go back to school two days a week, as stated in their hybrid option, Moore said parents should be refunded some of their taxes to compensate because their children won’t actually be learning in schools.
Moore said based on the medical data he has seen, the rate of infection for younger people is negligible. Because of this, he doesn’t fear his daughter getting infected if she were to return to school full time.
As of the morning of July 15, a petition on change.org in favor of a five-day in-class option has 1,365 signees.
Support for RSD’s current decision
When RSD posted on their social media platforms announcing the options for returning to school, they received an outpour of comments from their community members.
Sully Anselmo, senior, commented on RSD’s Instagram announcement.
In his comment, Anselmo thanked the district for providing a safe back-to-school option for students and supported their decision to offer the hybrid and online options.
“What people really need to understand is if they really want their kids to go back to school or ‘have their senior year,’ they need to stop going out and wear their masks,” Anselmo said. “The decision of the Rockwood School District is a result of people who have been selfish and close minded and have paid no mind to the world around them.”
While Anselmo believes in peaceful protest, he said the BOE protest was not about a legitimate issue.
“Those who are protesting Rockwood’s decision should use the power of their presence and voice elsewhere, such as with their employers since most of the concerns center around working parents and the need for children to be in school,” Anselmo said. “What I’ve seen presently is that some adults are making a tough situation even worse.”
Laura Burkhardt, who has a freshmen at MHS, made a petition on change.com to support the RSD administration. The petition had 1,306 signees as of the morning of July 25.
“While I completely understand that many families need to have their children in school five days a week for various reasons, I don’t feel that personally attacking faculty and staff is the answer,” Burkhardt said. “I wanted to make sure that the people involved in making these decisions understood that, while we may not be as vocal, they have a lot of support in the community.”
Burkhardt said the petition was in no way against those who were protesting in favor of a five-day school week, but that she hopes they will understand why Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles made the decision to not have a five-day in-school option.
“We just all need to understand that that cannot happen until it is safe to do so,” Burkhardt said. “We can get there if we all come together.”
Miles’s Plan for the Future
If environmental conditions improve, Dr. Miles said that students won’t have to wait until the quarter or semester mark to go back to school five days a week. However, if environmental conditions decline, he said that students could potentially be moved to a five-day online schedule.
“There is no perfect path. That is the challenge,” Dr. Miles said. “No one size fits all.”
Dr. Miles said that the district is prepared to move in either direction and that the district currently favors the hybrid option to allow for flexibility under the changing conditions.
“This is not a forever decision,” Dr Miles said. “But, we also need to be mindful of the environment that we are in.”
Zara Tola, senior, is copy editor for the Marquette Messenger. Zara can be seen frequently attending Board of Education meetings and community events for...