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'They don't have enough time to learn anything': Parents frustrated over Reynolds Middle School remote learning

Fights and outbursts from students led Reynolds Middle School to temporarily shift back to remote learning. On Wednesday, the school board discussed a safety plan.

FAIRVIEW, Oregon — Students at Reynolds Middle School had their last day of in-person learning Wednesday before reverting to distance learning as the school addresses recent behavioral issues on campus. They won't return to their classrooms for 20 days. 

Starting Nov. 22, students be distance learning again before returning to the classroom Dec. 7. They'll have days off Nov. 18-19 and Dec. 16 for teacher planning days.

“It sucks,” said parent Lerone Hines. “We're just getting back to going back to school and now we got to go right back to heading home. They're not really learning anything because they don't have enough time to learn anything.”

District officials said they need the next two weeks to address multiple fights and disruptions at Reynolds Middle School. They said the behavior comes from struggles some kids are having with socialization skills after months away from the classroom. Others can't deal with COVID protocols.

“While it does seem extreme right now, to be able to take this time to implement safety protocols and social and emotional support systems, we feel will benefit the students, the teachers and the families in the long run,” said Steve Padilla, assistant director of public relations for the Reynolds School District.

RELATED: Reynolds Middle School pausing in-person learning for two weeks after student outbursts, fights

For parents like Magdalena Camarena, the strategy doesn't make sense.

“I think it's illogical that the school is closing for behavioral problems when the pandemic affected it so much last year,” said Camarena. “The kids are now in a lower level and right now there's chaos in the district.”

The teacher's union echoed that sentiment during the Reynolds School Board meeting Wednesday night.

“It's serious out there and we need help,” said Reynolds Education Association President Lisa Griffith. She said staffing is a huge issue and believes there should be an online option for kids who need it.

“Even our calmest schools are stressed,” said Griffith. “Teachers across the district are exhausted, demoralized, they are in survival mode.”

As for the issues impacting Reynolds Middle School, district officials shared ideas with school board members for how to address them. They included adding more supports for social-emotional learning, hiring two additional campus monitors for Reynolds Middle School as well as two more for Reynolds High School.

“Doing somewhat of a school safety audit and looking at our security measures,” said Dr. Sara Hahn-Huston, executive director of schools. “We take it very seriously. We want to know if there's area for improvement.”

RELATED: Concerns over staffing shortages, lack of supervision lead parent to pull daughter from public school