‘We want choices’: Parents plead for in-person learning weekend before school starts

SPOKANE, Wash. — A group of parents spent the last weekend before school starts opposing the online-only learning option. 

Students at Spokane Public Schools will log on to class from home Monday. The decision to go virtual is one some parents aren’t happy about as they try to juggle work and child care. 

All those parents say they want is to have a choice, one they feel SPS didn’t give to them. 

“Normally I sleep while my kids are in school, so when the schools are closed, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Cassie, a single mom who feels she’s been put in a tough position. 

This fall she has to balance her graveyard shift as a first responder, on top of being there for her kids as they learn from home full time. 

“I can’t afford more child care because that’d be about 19 hours a day of child care, just so I can sleep, my kids can get educated and I can keep my job,” said Cassie. 

She joined other parents on Saturday, pleading for SPS and other districts to offer an in-person option. 

“So many parents are being faced with an impossible choice between putting their kids in front of a screen or being able to provide for the well-being of their children by working,” said Joanna Hyatt. 

Their worries are expansive. 

“We need to get our schools back open so our children can socialize, so they don’t fall behind with education,” said Cassie. 

Spokane Public Schools’ superintendent has said before: Virtual-only learning wasn’t what they wanted, but it’s what state and local health officials say is safest for students and staff. 

Spokane is still considered a ‘high risk’ area with 98 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks. To reopen for in-person schooling, Spokane’s top health officer Dr. Bob Lutz would like that to be at 25 cases per 100,000. The state’s recommendation is 75 cases per 100,000. 

RELATED: ‘We must mitigate community transmission to reopen schools’: Health Officer recommends Spokane Co. schools opt for online learning

The majority of Eastern Washington schools are starting with remote learning. Some parents want another option.

“We’re glad that you can come up with a virtual option for parents who want that choice. Now, we’re asking for you to come up with a safe, creative in-person option so parents can make the best decision for their families,” Hyatt said.