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Lakewood City School parents divided over decision to continue online learning as cases spike

Posted at 10:45 PM, Oct 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-19 23:20:27-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Monday marked the first day that students in the Lakewood City School District would’ve returned to a hybrid model of in-person and online learning, but when Cuyahoga County’s COVID-19 cases spiked pushing the county to a red alert, that didn’t happen.

The district’s latest plan stated if the county was in a red or purple zone, meaning community spread risk is high, the students and staff would continue with online instruction.

But when the county switched to red, many parents demanded the option of in-person learning.

Gabriella McCarty, a Lakewood parent, started an online petition asking for the superintendent and board to reconsider.

That petition reads, “The current decision to stay remote is a disservice to the students of Lakewood. It broadens the disparity, in an already diverse community, of educational access in Lakewood. This is not sustainable for Lakewood families. We are a community with single parents, children with special needs, parents working outside of the home, and a variety of other situations, often forcing children to stay at home without supervision. Children are more vulnerable and at greater risk of abuse, depression, and suicide when schools are physically closed.”

McCarty was just one of several parents who spoke Monday night at the board meeting in disapproval of the decision to remain online.

One parent said, “I’m here to fight for my children. I’m here to fight for the rights to want the choice to go to school,” she said. “Especially our children with special needs. I’m begging you, again, to the special needs community, it’s really imperative.”

Sue Tamilio, who currently has a senior at Lakewood High School, applauded the board’s decision to stay online.

“I am adamant that we need to stay remote because we are in the midst of widespread community spread of this virus,” she said. “Our districts motto during COVID-19 has been ‘one heartbeat, one Lakewood’ and I’ve loved that motto and this is the time the district needs to live ‘one heartbeat, one Lakewood’ because we need to care for our community.”

Dozens of teachers attended Monday night’s meeting, united in the idea of staying remote, many getting up to speak to the board saying it’s not that they don’t want to go back into the classroom, they just want to be safe.