Parents in the Central Bucks School District protested Saturday against the district’s decision to start the year virtually — an announcement school leaders made this week after determining they did not have enough staff to return to classrooms.
Central Bucks had previously planned to offer full-time, in-person instruction to elementary students, along with hybrid and virtual options. But as it began to assign teachers to those programs, “it became quickly apparent that we do not have adequate staff to safely open school,” Superintendent John Kopicki said.
Lauren Feldman, a parent of an incoming fourth grader who organized Saturday’s protest in Doylestown, said families should have a choice whether to send their children back into a classroom.
“I’m hoping that they hear our voice, and will reevaluate the situation and find a way,” Feldman said.
Many school districts around Philadelphia have opted to begin the school year virtually, as public health experts warn of potential outbreaks if schools reopen. On Friday, the Chester County Health Department advised schools in Chester and Delaware Counties to start the year virtually through Oct. 9, citing potential increased coronavirus cases “due to the end of the summer holiday.”
The decisions have frustrated parents who wanted in-person instruction. In Central Bucks — one of Pennsylvania’s largest school districts, with 18,000 students — nearly half of elementary parents had wanted to send their children back to school five days a week. A quarter chose a hybrid plan, and the rest, a fully virtual option. (Secondary-school families were given the choice of hybrid or virtual programs; 80% chose the former.)
Like other area counties, Bucks falls into what Pennsylvania officials have classified as having “moderate” community spread, warranting a blended or fully remote model.
Feldman noted that Bucks’ cases had been trending downward. Referring to open day-cares, she said: “I don’t see why we can’t figure out a way to get our older kids back in our school.”