The road to reopening schools for in-person learning in Montgomery County appears to be a long one as COVID-19 cases surge. Clarice Schillinger thinks the worst-case scenario for the restart is September of 2021, but the mother of two from Horsham doesn’t like to think about it.
“My 14-year-old was crying last week,” Schillinger, 33, said Sunday. “She said ‘Mom, all I want for Christmas is to go back to school, to go back and play sports.’”
Schillinger said her children have had just three days of in-person learning in the Hatboro-Horsham School District since March. That’s why she helped organize “Voice for Choice — Open Our Schools,” a car rally that drove through Montgomery County on Sunday afternoon.
“We don’t want to take away virtual learning, but we want a choice between that and in-person learning,” Schillinger said. “The kids are suffering right now.”
Montgomery County has had 935 COVID-19 deaths this year, the second most in the state behind Philadelphia. The county had 21,021 total confirmed cases as of Sunday night and, like most areas, those numbers are going up.
“We are in the midst of a spike in positive cases,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health web page.
The Hatboro-Horsham school district, where Schillinger’s children are students, presented a lengthy study on a return to in-person learning last month, but in a Nov. 17 news release, Superintendent Scott T. Eveslage said schools would move to entirely virtual learning until at least Dec. 6.
“Even without citing county data, we know firsthand the situation in our Hatboro-Horsham school community is growing increasingly problematic,” Eveslage said at the time.
Montgomery County officials could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Eveslage said in an emailed statement that the district wants the children back as well.
“However, the newest directive provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the mandated closing by the Montgomery County Department of Health do not lawfully allow for in-person instruction at this time,” Eveslage said.
Schillinger hopes the protest, which she estimated at 80 cars, would be noticed in Harrisburg and beyond.
“The CDC gave us guidelines to follow,” Schillinger said. “Let’s follow them and learn to live with this virus. The healthy must still go on, to school and to work.”