Parents, students push back against in-classroom learning for fall in South Kitsap School District

VIDEO: Students will return to classroom in South Kitsap Count

KITSAP COUNTY, Wash. — A decision by the South Kitsap School Board to hold in-person classes this fall caused anger among teachers, parents and students, who spoke out at the board's online meeting this week saying the risk of an outbreak of coronavirus is too great to take chances in the classroom.

Now an online petition is being readied to try to force the board to change the plan.

“I don’t want to see my friends die, I don’t want to see my friends get sick,” a student said during the remote school board meeting.

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“I want my child in school, but I’m also the family member of someone that has died from COVID. I’m also the friend of somebody that has died from COVID,” a parent told the board.

In a 3 to 2 vote Wednesday, the board decided to override a decision by the district's superintendent and send kids back to classrooms for several days a week.

Parents reacted angrily.

“We have 10,000 students, approximately, that means 84 of them, right now, have COVID-19 and they’ll have it on day one,” said one man.

“Shame on you,” said one teacher. Another broke down, saying, “I have a two-year-old daughter at home and I’m really scared to go back to work.”

Under the plan, parents can choose a "Flex" plan where grades two through 12 would attend in-person classes two days a week. Kindergarten through third grade would attend three to four days a week. There is an online option for families who choose not to send their kids to school.

Kristi Breton is a mother of three South Kitsap students who have started an online petition gathering signatures to force the board to hold online classes for all students.

“What I really wanted was the board would just make the decision to follow whatever the health department said was OK for our district,” Breton said.

KIRO 7 contacted the South Kitsap School District on Friday but was told no one was in the office and available to comment.