FOX CHAPEL, Pa. — The school board in Fox Chapel has a tough choice to make after some parents made a plea for elementary students to return to class five days a week.
“You’re putting my family in a very, very, very hard place,” said parent Kelly Muraco Strain.
There was evident frustration in the voices of many families during the meeting.
The school board is considering online and hybrid models for middle and high school students, but the greatest debate is over elementary students.
There is an option for two days in class and three days online. Still, some parents say young kids going to day care, being with grandparents or babysitters and going to class expose too many people unnecessarily.
Those parents made their plea to the school board, and it seemed to work.
“I think the public comments made me think a little bit more about concerns with where kids are going on the other three days,” said school board member Adam Goode.
“I think I’ve been strongly influenced by many of the comments tonight,” said school board member Eric Hamilton.
But several parents also expressed deep concern over the safety of teachers and staff if children returned to class.
“I think it’s unfair to put teachers in a position were they’re putting their lives at risk,” said parent Doug Baker.
One parent, an engineer, said even with socially distanced classrooms and cafeterias, contaminated air could be circulating throughout the whole building.
“What we’re going is taking air from each room and distributing it to every single room connected,” said parent Bethany Carney.
As the board will vote on a final decision Monday, parents have less than two weeks to plan how to balance it all, adding even more stress to their plates.
While most acknowledge there is no perfect decision, for the board, this is personal.
“We’re working our hardest. The majority on the board have children or grandchildren in the district just like all of you,” said school board member Vanessa Lynch.
The district said a survey would go out to parents asking which option they feel comfortable committing to—students returning to class five days a week or a hybrid option.
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