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Bend-La Pine parents plan rally to call for return to in-person learning

'Our school board really needs to take a look ... and make sure there is continuity across the county.'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ )-- Some parents in Bend-La Pine Schools want their children back in the classroom, and they're planning to rally to make their case.

The COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2019 school year abruptly and prompted continued online virtual learning for at least the start of the 2020-21 school year.

But some parents feel some students are being left behind with the virtual learning model.

The parents are planning a rally on Monday in front of the Bend- La Pine Schools Administration Building downtown, from 4p.m. to 6 p.m.

Kelly Vlach and Indu Fairbanks are organizing the rally, and started a Facebook page called Open Bend-La Pine Schools.
"I think also the other school districts in our county have gone back, to the K-3 hybrid models. Sisters and Redmond, I believe are both back starting this week," Vlach said Thursday.

"We are in the same county, following the same metrics, so it would make sense that we would also be able to go back. Our school board really needs to take a look at that and make sure there is continuity across the county."

In recent days, the Bend-La Pine and Redmond school districts have delayed reopening K-3 classrooms until at least Oct. 26 due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Deschutes County. Sisters K-3 students however, did return to in-person classes this week, in part-time "hybrid" fashion."

Both Vlach and Fairbanks said high school students are struggling, especially ones required to take the sat or other college ready exams, because of the limited availability.

The rally organizers said being out of the classroom has affected to students but also has added burden to teachers who love their jobs and their students.

Six schools elsewhere in Oregon have reported COVID-19 cases since school began, according to the Oregon Health Authority's weekly report. 

But Vlach said, "I'm not concerned."

Fairbanks agreed: "I'm not concerned, either. Obviously, there might be a chance, but there is also a chance they can get the flu, there is a chance they can get in a car accident."

Fairbanks said they're grateful for their teachers during this time, and understand some may not be comfortable returning to the classroom.

"Things might even out, in the sense that if given the option to go back to school in person, they would also still have the option to remain online," she added.

"So given that option there probably, or most likely will be enough teachers willing to go in person, and then those wanting to stay home for whatever reason," Fairbanks said. "It will all shake out."

On Monday, students participating in the rally will also log out for the entire day as part of the protest, not participating in curriculum for the day.

Fairbanks also said she will be contacting her children's teachers ahead of the rally to inform them why her students will not be present. Again, she said the rally is to benefit not only families but also teachers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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