Parents rally in Bellevue calling school districts to offer option for in-person learning

Parents rallied in Bellevue on Saturday to call on local school districts to offer an in-person learning option for students. Participants in the rally voiced frustrations over continued remote learning, calling on districts to offer a choice of returning to classrooms.

School districts mentioned during the rally included Issaquah School District, Bellevue School District, and Mercer Island School District, who have been remote learning for over six months.

“We know that that's the best thing for our kids, to be back in school physically, learning in person, seeing their friends, not isolated. We know that that's the best thing,” said Moya Skillman.

Skillman spoke on behalf of a group called School is Essential, which claims that schools are not super spreaders for the virus and are the safest place for both students and teachers.

Peter Chien told Q13 News he was at the rally to support the need for a change in how students are learning this year.

"Learning from home is a complete disaster. Students are not engaged. Teachers here in BSD they are not setup for online learning. And as a result, kids are not learning anything," said Chien.

Chien, a father to an 8th-grade daughter, said it is evident in the children's grades and the change in the grading system from first quarter, based on a pass/fail system and that kids continue to get bad grades.

"As part of learning, she needs that in-person interaction with the teacher. She's telling us every day, she can't learn in front of a camera. She just can't do it," said Chien.

The rally comes just shy of a week after Gov. Jay Inslee's new state restrictions, in which school districts are exempt from the changes.

Bellevue School District is currently in stage 2 of distance learning. Issaquah School District and Mercer Island School District is also remote learning, with target dates for Kindergarten to start in-person instruction on Jan. 6 and 1st graders to return to classrooms on Jan. 19.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control, children and adolescent can be infected with COVID-19, most patients are asymptomatic or have a mild case of the virus. The CDC says hospitalizations of children and adolescents with the virus are much lower than adults, but severe cases in children can occur.