The Morning Call (Sunday)
Parents rally in Whitehall Township to reopen schools
Daily in-school option sought
Children need to get back to school full time, Alison Ruta, a Whitehall-Coplay School District parent, said Saturday, during an outdoor rally with likeminded parents.
“Our children should come first in everyone’s eyes,” Ruta said. “If we do not get these children back into school and have that choice, there will be a huge mental health pandemic.”
Ruta was among a group of about 30 people who attended the “Rally to ReOpen Schools” in Whitehall Township. Standing along the busy intersection of Schadt Avenue and Mickley Road, the group, including children, waved brightly colored signs while chanting, “Our Children, Our Choice, FullTime.”
The parents, who were from area school districts including Whitehall and Parkland, contend that their children need and should be in school five days a week. As cars whizzed by, beeping in agreement, parents held signs that read, “Let Them Learn, Hybrid Has to Go” and “Our Children Are Essential.”
“This is unacceptable putting kids through this,” said Courtney Lopez, a Parkland School District parent and a speaker at the rally.
Throughout the pandemic, the Valley’s school districts have had to contend with the challenge of howto best serve the educational needs of students while protecting the health of teachers, staff and children.
By and large, the Lehigh Valley’s school districts offer fully remote or hybrid educational models for students. As cases of the coronavirus spiked this fall, several including East Penn and Parkland shifted to fully remote learning for some schools.
The group, which has a private Facebook page “Rally to ReOpen Lehigh Schools,” wants parents to at least have the option of having their kids in school five days a week.
“Schools are not super spreaders. Other schools have the option of opening 5 days in Pennsylvania and other states,” the group says on its Facebook page.
According to the World Health Organization, there were few outbreaks of the virus in schools in 2020 and most infections were acquired at home. Transmission in schools was more likely between staff and less likely student to student.