Parents and students gathered outside Taylorville High School before the board meeting Monday evening to protest remote learning and urge the return of students to the classroom. Signs were held that said “Educate Me” and “Kids Want To Learn.” Another sign said, “Online learning is harmful to our kids.” Due to IDPH guidelines, only 50 people were allowed in the cafeteria for the meeting which meant some parents could not get in.
Once inside, the message was clear. Allow children back into the classroom. Many parents spoke in front of the board. One parent said that the school demands patience from the parents during this time, but she felt it was fair to ask for patience from the school for the children. Melissa Patterson, a mother of three in the district, says that she wasn’t there for herself, but for her kids and other parents who have struggled to handle remote learning.
The board let each parent say what needed to be said. While there was a 5 minute limit for conversations, School Board President Stephen Turner allowed each parent to speak. Over 9 individuals spoke about remote learning. Most praising the teachers but also asking for more transparency from the board concerning decisions that were made.
Superintendent Dr. Chris Dougherty addressed some of the parents that had stayed for the meeting later on. A lot of parents had left after they had spoken and did not stay for the full meeting. Dr. Dougherty says that the whole process has been very frustrating but decisions need to be made from facts, not from emotions.
Dougherty says the situation is nobody’s fault. According to Dougherty Taylorville School District is remote learning because of the COVID outbreaks that are happening at much smaller schools such as Morrisonville, Pana, and other area locations. She says with Taylorville being much bigger than these smaller schools, the outbreaks would be bigger.
Dr. Dougherty announced that there have already been 24 COVID-19 infections in the School District including High School Principal Matt Hutchison, and that is without kids present in the school. She also announced that certain schools like Pana that started in-class learning are going hybrid learning because of all the infections. Dougherty says a knee jerk reaction would be bad.
For any parents who may have missed it, you can find Dr. Dougherty’s complete statement here.
Dr. Dougherty says the plan is to readdress the situation and make an announcement about remote learning before the end of the quarter.