Parents Push for Reopening Schools


Longfellow parent Clay Pak wakes up every day struggling with the fact that his kids are learning by staring at a computer screen every day. But he acknowledges the risk.

“It isn’t worth it sending my kids to school where there is high risk of infection and can bring it home where it will infect everyone in my house,” said Mr. Pak

According to Longfellow’s Director of Student Services, Marissa Brooks, there are currently 60% of students scheduled to come back to the school building.  They were scheduled to come back on January 26, 2021, but that return has once again been delayed.  This percentage is the same as the system-wide numbers from last July, where 60% of students were counted in the “in-person” category. 45% of all parents had responded that they wanted their children to return to school in-person, and 15% were put in that category by default when they did not return the survey.

Mr. Pak speculates the reason why those parents want to send their kids to school is because they want their kids to have interaction with their peers and because in-person learning makes students more engaged than virtual learning.

Over the summer, protests were held with parents concerned about equity for their children.  In local news coverage on WAMU and WUSA9, the most vocal protesters were advocating for special education and special needs students, for whom online learning is the most challenging.  Some of those students were the first to return to school when the phased return to school first began in October.

According to WAMU’s June 2020 story entitled, “Sending Kids Back To School Is A ‘Gamble’ Between Health And Survival, Parents Say,” Fairfax County Special Education Parent-Teacher Association (SEPTA) advocacy chair Diane Cooper-Gould was at that time leaning towards sending her own kids to in-person school. But she was looking for additional information even then.

Oklahoma is one of many states where parents are protesting distance learning. KOCO Channel 5 in Oklahoma City quoted one parent who said, “We’re not proposing that everyone go back in person. We just want the choice, same as they have the choice to go virtual.”

The question of when Fairfax County Public Schools will return to school is still up in the air as the School Board once again put the whole process on pause as covid numbers continue to rise in the community.