Lower Merion School District parents plan protest to voice back-to-school concerns

ByRebeccah Hendrickson WPVI logo
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Lower Merion parents plan protest to voice back-to-school concerns
Some parents in Lower Merion have planed a protest to voice their concerns.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- As Lower Merion School District officials get ready to release a school plan for the fall next week, some parents and teachers are planning a protest.

Protesters say they have three main concerns over the district's potential reopening; safety, transparency and equity.

A petition with over 900 signatures raises concerns about some of the options the district is considering, including one where it would partner with Montgomery County Intermediate Unit for an all-virtual school. Officials said some of the lessons would be taught by teachers not from the district.

"The problem right now is, even to this day, no one knows exactly what the plan is," said Jaime Bassman, a parent of two students in the district.

Norristown, Upper Dublin school districts to start the school year all-virtual

"It doesn't seem fiscally-wise and it doesn't seem student-centered, and it certainly doesn't seem teacher-centered," said Danielle Arnold-Schwartz, an elementary school gifted teacher.

The district, however, stresses that is just one of the options. It's also working on coming up with the LMSD@home, where all of the teachers would be from the district. Additionally, the district is also weighing have students physically in the classroom.

Two school districts in Montgomery County have announced they will be going all-virtual to start the school year.

Pointing to an August 5 vote, a spokesperson for the district says the board is still considering several options.

"They may vote to open schools for in-person instruction for all students, a hybrid model with different cohorts in schools in different days, or fully remote instruction to start the year," said Amy Buckman, the director of school and community relations.

Arnold-Schwartz, however, is against the option of returning to the classroom.

"I think it's very hard for people to imagine the challenges in the classroom of keeping everyone safe unless they have stood in our shoes," she said.

Some parents, however, say they're torn. Bassman says she'd rather her kids be in the classroom, but she doesn't know if it's viable.

"My own kids have special education needs and at this point, I will be really frank, I don't feel like I can trust the district to provide them with the consistency that they need and that my family needs right now," she said.

The protest is set to begin Thursday, August 30 at 5pm in front of the district's administration building.