OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) – Just like hospitals, Schools are coping with growing numbers of students and teachers with COVID-19. They are rapidly approaching or exceeding guidelines they set for when to close classrooms.

But returning to virtual learning is a step many parents strongly oppose.

At Monday night’s Blue Valley School Board meeting, many angry families packed the room to express the struggles of online and hybrid learning. They’re part of a growing movement in the district, urging the board and administrators to return to full, in-person learning.

It’s a struggle Jen Blondi’s family has experienced for several weeks, if not months.

“Things have been different when it comes to school,” she said.

Blondi has three kids currently in the district, one each in elementary, middle and high school. The two older students are learning through a combination of classroom time and online instruction.

“Each one has an issue they’re dealing with,” she said, specifying that at times the children don’t feel engaged, have trouble keeping up and simply miss seeing their friends.

With cases spiking in Johnson county, the district’s current gating criteria could dictate a return to remote learning. Several parents at Monday night’s meeting asked the board to reject that criteria outright.

 “It creates barriers to going back to school full time, rather than helping schools reopen safely,” one parent said.

KCTV5 reached out to Blue Valley Schools to ask the administration for a response to the parents speaking at Monday’s meeting. We also wanted to know what learning could look like after Thanksgiving Break. The district did not make anyone available to speak with KCTV5 on the record.

But Kaci Brutto, a spokesperson for Blue Valley, wrote this statement to KCTV5 earlier in the week:

“Blue Valley’s Board of Education adopted the Kansas State Department of Education’s (“KSDE”) Navigating Change Criteria which includes five gating criteria. Our next review of current data and gating criteria is scheduled for next week. Additionally, as you noted, we have our regularly scheduled BOE meeting tonight. While this topic is not an agenda item, it is likely it will be discussed during the learning update.”

Blue Valley’s next board meeting is November 16.

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