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'We are drowning’: Hundreds sign petition asking Roanoke County schools to reconsider hybrid learning

‘We don’t know the solution; we’re just asking to be heard’

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A group of parents in Roanoke County are at a breaking point with hybrid learning, so they created a petition to ask Roanoke County Public School leaders to reconsider.

“We are drowning,” said Nicole Pardon, a mom of two Roanoke County high school students.

Pardon said the district’s current hybrid plan isn’t working for her, her kids or hundreds of other families.

“Mentally and emotionally I think it’s just not very motivating for any of us," said Pardon. "And not only the effect on students, but the effect socioeconomically on our community.”

She and three other parents started a petition to revisit the Roanoke County hybrid plan and get kids back in school. At of Thursday evening, more than 500 people had signed it. Right now, Pre-K through 2nd grade are in school five days a week. Third grade through 12th graders are in person two days a week.

Pardon said the virtual learning platform, Blackboard, is assignment-, not learning-driven.

“They’re getting them in to check a box and to get their grades done. They’re spending more time just looking at assignments and completing tasks than actual learning.”

Pardon said kids need sports and socialization for their mental and emotional health. She also said parents should have the option to send their kids to school full-time because of a learning disability or their families' work schedules.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Ken Nicely wrote:

“Once physical distancing restrictions are lifted based on public health conditions, we look forward to having more of our students back with us full time. Until that time, we thank you for your continued patience and support.”

Roanoke County school officials said there just isn’t enough space in their buildings to have all students attend in-person class five days a week and maintain six-foot physical distancing, even with 25% of students enrolled in 100% online instruction.

Pardon wants everyone’s safety to be a priority and wants to follow the recommended CDC health guidelines, but she’s hoping this petition will force school leaders to listen and meet parents in the middle.

“We don’t know the solution; we’re just asking to be heard," said Pardon.


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