PORTLAND, Ore. — Dozens of frustrated families gathered outside Revolution Hall Sunday to express the need to reopen K-12 schools and return to safe, in-person learning.
"We understand that the cases and deaths are going up and that's tragic, it's a terrible thing, however it's an equally devastating issue seeing what's going on with our kids and keeping them home," said Jennifer Dale.
Dale co-organized the event. She's a mother of three, one of whom has a disability. She watched her own child struggle with distance learning. "We know that not every kid and not every teacher wants to go back to school right away, but what we are asking for is the option for some of our students who are struggling," Dale said.
Another speaker at Sunday afternoon's rally was Melanie Gabriel, a middle schooler. The 8th grader dropped out of school last year because she says distance learning was just too much for her.
Melanie says she got double the amount of assignments online but little instructions from teachers. "Which was extremely hard for me because I'm one of the types of students that need that hands-on experience, otherwise I'm not going to get what's going on," explained the 13-year-old. On Sunday, she read the oral testimony she wrote for the Oregon senate.
The coalition of parent groups is demanding in‐person options for every Oregon student by January 6 — the 300th day of school closures.
Here are the groups' demands:
1) Mandate in‐person options for every Oregon child by January 6, 2021.
2) Prioritize teachers and school staff in programs for both vaccination and COVID testing by clearly identifying school employees as essential workers.
3) Focus on ventilation in schools, adopting low‐cost solutions in the short‐term while providing funding for long‐term improvements.
4) Open school grounds to children.