TAYLOR COUNTY—After being left with only two options for schooling in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, some parents have banned together to voice their concerns with the current two-day in person option afforded by the Taylor County Board of Education.
After the impacts of students missing out on crucial face-to-face interaction and learning from their teachers became clear to one parent, she decided to form a group where parents could come to voice their concerns, and thus Parents for Taylor County, WV Students Returning to School Full Time was born.
“I am a parent of two children in the Taylor County Education System,” said Brittany Everett, the group’s creator. “I have one child that is in third grade at Anna Jarvis Elementary and one that is in sixth grade at Taylor County Middle School, and I have already seen the negative impacts the blended learning has had on my children.”
Determined to find a solution that would benefit the county’s children, Everett listened to concerns from other parents who wished for their youths to return to school.
“I have talked with them and many of the concerns I felt, they were also feeling,” she said. “We are asking that our voices be heard and considered substantially in the decisions that are being made by the Taylor County Board of Education regarding the education of our children.”
The group continues to increase in size on Facebook and has already grown to nearly 135 members.
In addition to the group, Everett also began a petition that has garnered the attention of concerned parents. To date, over 150 signatures have been added to the petition, and that number also continues to climb rapidly.
“The purpose of this group and petition is not to discredit the efforts being made to protect our children from additional risk of contracting COVID-19, but to bring light to the need for our children to have a structured, consistent environment to learn in,” Everett explained. “We appreciate the State’s valiant attempt to mitigate risk to our children in schools by developing the hybrid learning system. However, this system does not best suit the needs of the children, their families, or our teachers.”
While Everett would like to see students returning to in-person learning five days a week, she knows that there are some concerns of other parents who are not comfortable with that option.
“I am also asking for full virtual learning to still remain an option for those parents that do not feel it is safe for their children to return to school,” she noted.
Among some of the issues that she heard in her conversations with other parents, one of the top concerns was that of the effect the current two-day-a-week in person learning option would have on a student’s educational, social, emotional and mental well-being.
“There is abundant literature that points to school years being absolutely critical to children’s development,” she commented.
Another area that has garnered a great deal of concern was the added stress and responsibility to parents of providing an education to their children.
“Parents are being asked to take on the additional responsibility of instructing their children at home, in addition to their normal careers,” Everett expressed. “The home is generally not an environment that is conducive to continued use for teaching. There are too many distractions of their everyday life. This puts tremendous undue stress on families and can create significant discord.”
In addition, she revealed that there are also other complex issues that arise when parents of students with special needs are not able to access the resources needed for their children.
“We feel like we are failing our children by continuing down the path we are on,” Everett voiced. “Many parents and students are overwhelmed and feel hopeless at this point. I have heard from many parents who had straight A students are now seeing Ds and Fs on their progress reports.”
While cases of school-aged children have remained low for Taylor County, Everett shared that she does understand that there is still a risk of a child contracting COVID. To ensure that the health and safety of everyone involved remains on the forefront of any decision, Everett has been in contact with WV Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh, asking questions and seeking input.
According to information provided by Marsh, national and local statistics show the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in school aged children is minimal.
“Many parents, as evidenced by the signatures on this petition, feel the benefit of their children returning to a five day in person school week far outweighs the risk of them becoming sick from the virus,” she voiced. “I am very aware that a return to a five-day school week might not be an option, we are asking that at least a four-day week be considered.”
Armed with information, Everett has attended Taylor County Board of Education Meetings to voice concerns and begin conversations about increasing the amount of in-person instruction students receive.
“I will not stop fighting for our children,” Everett voiced. “I’m not giving up. We need to find a happy medium for our children.”
To learn more, please visit the Parents for Taylor County, WV Students Returning to School Full Time Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/350414913040373. There, parents will also be able to access the petition mentioned above, which can also be found at http://chng.it/fHN95Twy.