Parents, students rally for reopening Pullman schools

Families should be able to choose in-person learning, protesters say

Members+of+the+Pullman+community+line+Grand+Avenue+to+show+support+for+reopening+schools+Monday+evening.

OLIVER MCKENNA

Members of the Pullman community line Grand Avenue to show support for reopening schools Monday evening.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen editor-in-chief

Nearly 100 people gathered on Grand Avenue calling for the reopening of Pullman Public Schools as soon as possible, with some holding signs that read “Get Our Kids Back in School” Monday afternoon. 

“Kids are suffering,” said Violette Beall, parent of a 7-year-old student at Jefferson Elementary School.

During a special board meeting on Nov. 4, Pullman School District’s Board of Directors voted 3-2 to delay phased reopening of elementary schools to Jan. 4, according to the district website. The reopening will begin with kindergarten and first grade, as long as the county health department still supports in-person learning.

Jen Greeny, parent and one of the event organizers, said she hopes reopening begins as soon as possible.

“Many parents and students were frustrated with that decision [to delay],” Greeny said.

Hillary Lovinger, parent of three elementary-age students, said parents want to be able to choose whether their children go back to in-person learning.

“We have some kids that are very, very miserable with online right now,” Lovinger said. “We just can’t replace in-person learning.”

State Representative Mary Dye said science shows school-aged children are not as susceptible to COVID-19 as older individuals. 

“We need to continue living,” Beall said.

Parents cannot replace the social and emotional learning their children get from being in school, she said.

Owen, whose last name has been omitted because he is a minor and Pullman High School senior, said online learning is difficult because he feels like he does not have to attend online sessions to pass the class.

“It feels like we’re just going through the motions,” Owen said. “I don’t feel like I’m learning as much as I should be.”

Students who do not want to go back to school should not be forced to be there, Owen said, but students should have the option to be there if they want.

“I would say most students probably want to go back,” he said.

Parents started an online petition to encourage the school board to begin phased reopening before Jan. 4. There are 262 signatures on the petition as of 6 p.m. Monday.