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Lakeview parents push return to in-school learning

Staff photo / Nathanael Hawthorne Caly Lantz, a 17-year-old junior at Lakeview High School, reads a letter about the need for students to return to in-person learning despite the pandemic. A public forum was held Thursday at the Avalon Inn in Howland.

HOWLAND — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how school systems operate.

While many school districts are getting by, parents of students in the Lakeview Local School District believe being in school is not only safe but the best option for students to learn, rather than the hybrid or remote learning models most districts are following.

“We are trying to help find a way to help the board get these kids back in school,” Taylor Pease, a parent of a first-grade student, said.

A group of nearly 50 parents, some in person and some virtually, met Thursday night at the Avalon Inn in Howland to air their complaints. Armed with a detailed presentation containing data collected from various studies regarding the safety of students in classrooms, the group spoke on what needs to change.

“We believe (the kids) can (be in class) safely based on what Gov. Mike DeWine has said,” Pease said. “There are so many schools in Trumbull County and across the country that have accomplished being back in school without getting the vaccination.”

To continue the argument to get kids in school, 17-year-old Caly Lantz, a junior at Lakeview, started the meeting by reading a letter explaining why students need to be in school. In the letter, she said being remote or hybrid has taken not only a physical toll on the students, but a mental toll as well.

“For me and many of my close peers, no school has meant not only physical seclusion but feeling alone mentally as well,” Lantz read. “Our education needs to be prioritized and our social and mental health needs to be at the top of the priority list.”

CUT HOURS

Among one of the main complaints was that students are not getting the minimum hours as required by the Ohio Department of Education.

In the presentation, Pease noted the Department of Education requires 910 hours of instruction for students in grades kindergarten through 6th grade and 1,001 hours for students in grades 7 through 12.

The presentation stated 294 year-to-date hours have been reported for a first-grade student and an estimated 588 hours would be reported by the end of the year, resulting in a 322-hour shortage.

Superintendent Velina Jo Taylor said a software issue led to a false representation of hours when report cards were mailed.

“It printed erroneous hours on the report cards. We are very carefully looking at the hours, including supplemental learning the schools offer,” Taylor said. “We believe we are very close to meeting the numbers, and we are confident we will meet the requirements.”

She added that all grade levels are offering additional opportunities for learning.

CALL FOR HELP

Pease implored those in attendance, both virtually and in person, to reach out to Taylor and express their concerns.

“We need help. I need people to call or email. We need people at the board meeting so we can put pressure on the administration,” he said.

Shannon Pease echoed her husband’s statements.

“Through all of this since March, our children have had zero say — no voice. They don’t have a choice,” Shannon Pease said. “You are their voice, and I’m asking you to be your child’s voice and be their advocate. You will never regret reaching out on behalf of your child and the children in this district.”

To be sure the Peases weren’t the only family with these concerns, they created a social media page in November to gauge what other parents were thinking.

“We started the (page) out of a curiosity to find out how many people are interested, and the amount of support we’ve got in a short period of time is amazing,” Taylor Pease said.

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