About 100 Nashua parents rallied outside of the superintendent’s office on Monday urging school officials for an expedient return to in-person schooling.
Although the Nashua School District kicked off its school year with fully remote learning, some parents say now is the time to get them back in the classroom.
“I think the children need to go back to school. They just deserve better,” said Sarah Angotti, a Nashua parent.
There doesn’t seem to be a definitive plan on when the students will be able to start hybrid learning and actually get to see a teacher in-person and the frustration levels are rising among parents, said Angotti. Nashua Parent Voice is a new group that believes there are better options that need to be explored.
“Our major concern is that out of nowhere, the date to implement hybrid was delayed. That wasn’t acceptable,” said Wayne Georgiana, who has two daughters in the school district.
Initially, school officials were hoping to implement hybrid learning in October, however that has been delayed for most grade levels.
On Monday, city classrooms opened for the first time for select special education students; kindergarten hybrid is set to begin on Oct 19 and first-grade hybrid will begin on Nov. 2.
“I am asking for patience, I am asking for community. I am asking to not be judgmental and I am asking for flexibility and understanding,” Superintendent Jahmal Mosley said on Monday. “ … I am at peace saying we are going to be pragmatic, deliberate and working the wise turtle in the long marathon to combat COVID-19.”
Mosley said he will not risk the lives of any student, teacher or staff member, stressing this is not the time to be divisive or attack one another. Instead, it is a time to work together, he said.
Mosley realizes that the decision to roll out hybrid, which includes reassessing the COVID-19 situation every two weeks to determine when the next grade level can begin partial in-school instruction, is not popular.
“I get it, but it is the way it has to be,” he said, explaining Nashua’s active case numbers have jumped from moderate to substantial in a few days. On Monday, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ website revealed there were 73 active cases of COVID-19 in Nashua, which is the highest in the state compared to Manchester’s 72 active cases.
Brandy Fiore, a Nashua parent with three boys enrolled in the school district, said school officials have dragged their feet and have not come up with a concrete plan to get the kids back in school.
“We are looking for a better plan other than a fill-in education,” said Fiore. “They are doing busy work. They don’t feel like they are learning.”
Children need to go back to in-person learning so they can interact with their peers and have a fighting chance at learning all of their curriculum, said Fiore.
Jill Gagne, another Nashua parent, said her biggest concern is for special education students and elementary-age children who need circle time, sharing time and face-to-face learning.
“These kids are so confused right now. Even if it’s just for a few hours, they should be in a classroom,” said Gagne.
Mosley said he will not throw out arbitrary dates for when certain grade levels will be able to start hybrid learning, stressing it will depend on the number of cases and available staffing.
“The epidemiology in the city of Nashua has changed,” said Mosley, explaining he cannot ignore the fact that more than 200,000 people have died from a virus that does not care about personal schedules.
The superintendent said he will err on the side of caution, continuously keeping in mind the safety of students and staff.
“That is never going to waver and that is going to make some people upset,” he acknowledged.
Georgiana said the district has taken away the right to an equitable and equal education by not allowing parents and families to make the choice of whether or not their children should be back in school.