Stillwater parents plan protest against virtual schooling for Tuesday school board meeting

Classrooms & COVID-19

STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Parents of students in the Stillwater school district are planning a protest against virtual schooling at Tuesday’s school board meeting. 

The city of Stillwater is among both our state and our nation’s top COVID-19 hot spots. The New York Times said the city has seen the 15th largest climb of new cases of any city in the country. That data is based on the amount of new daily cases over the last two weeks and population size. 

On Monday, one parent said she’s ready to fight back to get their kids in the classroom, claiming that distance learning isn’t cutting it.

The school board meeting is set for Tuesday night and is virtual. However, Amber Gray said their protest isn’t going to be disrupted. 

“The students need to be in school, they need to be taught,” Gray said. “If our city of Stillwater can be open and we are following the safety guidelines here than why isn’t the school following the same thing.” 

The district moved to all online classes on August 23 after a spike in COVID-19 cases. The district is making their decisions on a weekly basis, planning to have in person classes if Payne County is in the “yellow” on Oklahoma’s COVID-19 alert system. Right now, they’re in the orange with more than 1,200 cases and three deaths.  

However, Gray said virtual schooling isn’t cutting it. 

“There are families who have single parents, who have working parents and they can’t be home teaching their children all day long plus doing their job or be up all night long,” she said. 

According to Gray, she feels the school district needs to rethink their strategy. 

“They need to reevaluate how they are looking at the COVID numbers in our community versus just taking all of OSU and all of Stillwater and just clumping it all together as one,” she said. 

Gray said she hopes the protest can change the minds of school board administrators. 

“We want them to start hearing our voices and listening to the majority,” she said. 

On Facebook, Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce described the situation in Stillwater as “very concerning”. He said in his post that school closures and other precautions are necessary because “the more the disease spreads in Stillwater, the more likely it is for vulnerable people to be infected, with far more serious consequences.”

However, Gray said she’s holding out hope that the meeting will bring change. 

“I didn’t sign up to be a home school parent,” she said. “We don’t need to be in distance learning, they need to let our kids be in school learning.” 

There’s also a petition online for people who want their kids back in school, it has about 1,500 signatures.

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