‘We’re doing the best we can’: Mead School District addresses in-person learning backlash

MEAD, Wash. – It’s been difficult for school districts to find a balance between bringing kids back or learning from home.

The Mead School District was one of the first in eastern Washington to announce that it’d reopening for both in-person learning and online work.

The school board approved this plan last Thursday.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade would be at school every day. Students in sixth through twelfth grade will be on an alternating A/B schedules to reduce the number of kids at school.

If parents aren’t comfortable, they can opt for full-time remote learning for any grades.

The decision for reopening buildings for students is facing some backlash. This came after Governor Inslee and Dr. Bob Lutz’s recommendations for high risk counties, like Spokane, to start with online learning.

“I wish there was a way to make everyone happy… We’re doing the best we can. This is a challenge. There are no easy decisions,” said Michael Cannon, a Mead school board member.

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Parent Mike Miller will most likely have his two girls learn from home this fall.

“It’s hard. We want business to get back, but you have to take the safety of the kids in mind,” Miller told 4 News Now.

He understands why schools need to reopen, but isn’t happy the district is going against several health and state leaders’ recommendations.

“We deeply respect Dr. Lutz and his desire to keep the community safe, and his recommendations. We definitely are not only considering that recommendation, but incorporating that into our decision,” Cannon responded.

He believes there is more to a student’s health than just the risks of COVID-19.

“There are things like social, behavioral and emotional, mental health needs that need to be considered as well,” Cannon said.

In a survey sent out from the district, about 70 percent of parents who answered want their kids back in school.

With so many favoring a return to class, Miller thinks this could put his kids, and others who will learn remotely, at a disadvantage.

“You know that in-person is going to have the priority. The remote learning becomes kind of short change, I think,” Miller said.

Cannon says the district will try to have the education for both be equal. He knows that in-person instruction isn’t the same as online learning, though.

“There are going to be some parts that they’re not going to experience not being in the physical school, and that’s OK,” Cannon said. “If that meets their need at this point, then great, we’re fully prepared to make both options great options.”

However, Miller is still concerned about his kids falling behind.

“Let’s put everyone on an even playing field. Let’s put everyone on remote learning, and keep everyone at the same level and we can deal with that, deal with the challenges together as opposed to splitting everyone up,” Miller suggests.

“We’re trying to meet everyone’s need that we can, and respect that everyone has different needs and needs a different option,” Cannon said. “I can understand concern for not having students in-person, which is why we have the other option as well.”

The Mead School District will be holding a webinar for parents. One was held Tuesday talking about elementary school options. There will be another on Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. for middle and high school learning options. Find more on how to participate here. If parents can’t attend, the district said it will post the webinars online afterwards.

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