Oak Creek-Franklin school district families protest, demanding in-person learning option
OAK CREEK, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As we reported, some Oak Creek-Franklin school district parents were heated over the announcement of school day camps for a fee. On Thursday, families took to the district offices to protest, demanding in-person learning for students.
Dozens of parents were chanting ‘open our schools’ and ‘vote them out.’ A number of them say they’re frustrated and feel they have been ignored.
“Honestly, I want to go back to normal,” said Jennifer J, Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District parent.
Parents say in July they were given the option to either go face-to-face or virtual, but last week the school board decided the year would start fully virtual, just two weeks before school begins.
“Now they have to figure out what they’re going to with work or what they’re going to do with their kids or anything like that, this is so frustrating,” said parent Christine Lenczner.
Debbie Mesick, a non-verbal autistic student, is having a hard time at home.
“We might be taking a risk sending her to school but the risk is greater of her falling behind,” said her dad.
Mesick’s parents say not having her in school has caused regression with her autism.
“School means the world. She’s made so much progress with her therapies and everything that she receives through the school district,” said Jeremy Mesick.
Some are still angry over the day camps being offered, which allow anywhere from 45 to 75 students in each school building and offer homework help, recess and remote online learning.
“They say oh we’re going to shut the schools down but we’re going to offer a day camp and we’re going to charge you $100 a week per kid,” said Lenczner.
“A lot of us don’t have the money to pay for that,” added Jennifer J.
The district superintendent, Daniel Unertl, says they’re trying to be creative and offer solutions to working families. In a statement, he says:
“The scale of our day camp offering, 45 to 75 kids in cohort groups of 15, is the biggest difference as compared to regular operations. Some of our elementary schools have nearly 500 students. It's a much smaller, more contained group of kids. A successful day camp program can help families in need and help move schools toward a successful general reopening. Like a number of other school districts, we are trying to be creative with both our staffing and our services. Our teachers are reporting to our schools to teach, many of our aides who normally help supervise students can still help serve our community by working with kids in our expanded day camp offerings. Having our staff and these students back in our schools and continuing to work with our city's public health department helps us work to return everyone else to school with them, just as fast as we can."
Area teachers unions have said numerous times that virtual learning is the safest for everybody, and health experts know best.
“You know what they’re saying is true, we can do things that will cause the pandemic to surge and hurt people very badly or we can take their advice seriously and be safe,” said Ted Kraig, Region 7 director, Wisconsin Education Association Council.
During the protest, parents encouraged people to attend the upcoming school board meeting on Monday, Aug. 24 ,where they would have the chance to vote on a number of issues.