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Davis parents, students to rally for return to class

Parents and teachers pose for a photo during a rally outside the Davis School District offices in Farmington prior to a school board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Parents and students held signs and voiced their support for an in person five day school week. Photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

FARMINGTON, Utah — Parents and students are going to gather before Tuesday’s school board meeting in Davis County. They want school to be back in class five days a week.

Organizers are asking people to wear masks and stay distanced from each other outside. They also will bring signs and show which school they represent. But they don’t want to overwhelm the inside of the meeting, where there is limited seating.

Parents say they want to be a voice in their children’s education. They are upset that the district recently changed to an alternate schedule of two days in school and three days online.

Students say they can’t learn effectively online.

“A lot of people with learning disabilities just function much better if they are sitting there being taught by a person. If they can interact with a person and not just an email that you may get an answer back later that night,” said Donovan Drake, a high school senior in Layton who started a petition for the full class schedule.

Drake says his grades tanked in the spring with the switch to online learning.

Other parents say the same thing happened to their children.

“Last semester was extremely difficult and they are falling behind substantially. Teachers need to be able to bridge the gap from distance learning for the last semester of the school year. By only going 2 days a week how do they plan to address these issues?” asked Ashley Murray, who has two children in Davis schools.

Parents of special education students say remote learning and even the hybrid schedule does not provide their children with the services they need and requirements under the law.

“Last year was a joke. The school district has had 3-4 months to make contingency plans for special education students and has not,” said Sherri Jamieson.

Kelli Pitcher is a mom of three students in the school district. She wants to see more transparency from the school district.

“We’ve followed the rules all along, we’ve done what you asked. Please come together with us, please listen to us, hear our concerns. Or eventually, we stop trusting,” Pitcher said.

She says the district and the board have not made it clear what the criteria is in order to get back into class again, and Murray agreed.

“They have not given the parents any idea of when that could be or where the numbers need to be to get to school full time. Parents want quantifiable data to show why kids are not able to attend full time. Davis County infection rate is at less than 1%,” she said.

Murray is worried about kids’ mental health. Pitcher says she sees a rise in depression and anxiety in her job as a nurse.

Pitcher helps run a Facebook group for parents, and is spreading the word about Tuesday’s rally. She feels like she is speaking up for single parents, for working parents, and for students who are in danger of losing it all again this year.

“If I don’t speak up now as decisions are being made, at what point down the road does my voice become mute?” said Pitcher.

But one parent contacted KSL Newsradio to say he likes the new hybrid model.

“I think a lot of people are forgetting that the online platform this year is going to look completely different than it did in the spring. I am confident the online experience will have been more thought out and have more structure than the past experience we had,” said Chris King, a father of three school-aged children in Woods Cross.

King says he’s afraid the infection rate will rise if school is allowed full time.

The Davis Board of Education meets at 6pm at the district offices at 45 East State Street in Farmington.