LAKEWOOD, OH — Monday evening's Lakewood Board of Education meeting saw community members argue over the merits of remote-only education.
The meeting began with Lakewood Schools officials bemoaning the county's upgraded COVID-19 threat during a Board of Education meeting on Monday. Cuyahoga County's upgraded threat means the state believes there is now more spread of COVID-19 locally.
Superintendent Michael Barnes said Cuyahoga County's new "red" status for COVID-19 threat will prevent the district from returning to any form of in-person education. He said he was disappointed in this turn of events, particularly because the district has spent weeks preparing for a return to in-person classes.
Members of the Board of Education echoed Barnes' comments before turning over the floor for public comment.
Members of the Lakewood Teachers Association (LTA) took advantage of the public comment period to express their desire to remain in remote learning until the county's health situation has improved.
"These agreements were the product of the collaborative bargaining process that has been used in Lakewood for nearly four decades, and were crafted with the health and safety of our students, families, and community as our guiding principle. The Board of Education approved these agreements on August 31 and October 12," LTA President Joe Zombek said in a statement.
Gavin Young, a Lakewood resident, urged the district to remain in remote-only education. He said his parents live in his home and he worries his children may unintentionally trasnmit the virus to their grandparents.
Other members of the community expressed their desire to see some form of in-person learning, particularly for students who have special education needs.
Gabriella McCarty, a nurse practitioner who started a petition to get children back into Lakewood schools, said the current remote-only model is "unsustainable." She urged the district to return to hybrid education, even if the county is classified as red.
"We've had enough," she said.
As of Tuesday morning, McCarty's petition has garnered 558 signatures on Change.org.
"Being remote and having students Zoom time all day and watch videos...this is not school. I do not agree with it, I will not stop fighting," McCarty added.
Particular concern was shown for students with disabilities and young children, who may not be thriving in remote-only education formats.
Nearly 100 comments on the district's decision to move to remote-only were submitted in writing to the board. Those comments will be submitted into the record, but were not read aloud during Monday's meeting.
Board Presidentsaid the written submissions reflected the larger tone of the in-person meeting. Submissions included residents encouraging the district to stick to its current education model and protect the health of the community, while other submissions demanded the district reopen to better accommodate struggling students.