Residents, board battle over decision to return to in-person learning
January 21, 2021 | View PDF
The Richland School District has recently implemented a return to classroom plan that has the board, as well as the community, at odds.
The district has started a hybrid return to school plan that has students in the classroom for in-person instruction. Small cohorts are in classrooms, with no more than 16 students in one class. Not all teachers and students are on board with the new plan.
With the invitation out there for students to return to the classroom, about 20% of the students are showing up for in-person instruction, with the majority of the students being kept at home to continue distance learning.
A petition has been gathering signatures, stating that the move to in-person instruction is premature and is putting the teachers in a position that is very uncomfortable. Jeff Ingle, a teacher for the Richland School District, is one teacher who does not agree with the new plan.
“I think that it would be better to wait to return to the classroom until the vaccines have been received,” said Ingle. Ingle’s wife, Rebekah, started circulating the petition. The petition states that the Richland School Board has rejected a plea to return to distance learning until it is safer for the teachers and students to do so.
It also says that once the teachers are fully vaccinated, there would be a far less chance that in-person learning would be paused due to a teacher’s illness or exposure.
The issue is also causing a split on the issue for the board. Board member Tony Aguirre said that he voiced his opinion to the board, thinking that the move to in-person learning is premature and that he thinks that the district is not ready.
“With the high proportion of cases in the community of Shafter, I think that it is too early to begin this plan. We would be better to wait until the issue is more under control for the safety of our students and staff,” said Aguirre.
Aguirre also went on to say that he understands the need for students to return to the classroom, including the hardship a lot of parents have when it comes to child care.
“We don’t need to get into a situation where the classrooms are opened up and then closed again, which is hard on the parents when trying to arrange for child care,” he said.
Messages left at the Richland School District office went unanswered.