Divides in parent opinion complicate school reopening push

Full Screen
1 / 2

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE In this Aug. 3, 2020, file photo, a coalition of teachers, students, and families protest during a rally called National Day of Resistance Against Unsafe School Reopening Opening, in New York. President Joe Biden is pushing for K-8 schools to fully reopen in his first 100 days. But many parents are in no hurry to send their children back to school. The reticence of large numbers of parents complicates reopening plans for districts that also are weighing other factors including resistance of teachers unions. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

President Joe Biden is pushing for K-8 schools to fully reopen in his first 100 days. But don’t look for Omeisha Snape’s kids in the classrooms.

The New York City mother made the decision to keep her six children home in the fall when given the option of some in-person learning, and she’s heard nothing to change her mind about continuing remote learning for the rest of the school year.

Other parents, though, have joined lawsuits to force schools to fully open their doors, illustrating a divide that often breaks down along racial lines. The reticence of large numbers of parents who are skeptical of schools' ability to keep their children safe complicates reopening plans for districts that also are weighing other factors including resistance of teachers unions and the logistics involved in keeping up social distancing.

“Absolutely not. They’re not going,” said Snape. She said her children have adjusted well to distance learning, while staying safe from the coronavirus.

If they returned to their charter school, there is no guarantee they would have their current teachers, while the masks, distancing and hand sanitizing would be a challenge, said Snape, who is Black. Not to mention the uniforms she would have to buy for the waning few weeks of school that would be left in the year.

Her 13-year-old daughter did recently return to the building part-time, Snape said, but only because she didn’t feel her teacher was responsive online.

Many other parents feel just the opposite.

Christina Maley Higley has been advocating for a full reopening of schools, citing among other reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ statements that in-person learning does not seem to significantly increase community transmission of the virus.