By Ryan Horton
Online petition aims to influence Choctaw-Nicoma Park principals in to allowing parents back inside district school sites
Local parents have started an effort to urge principals to open their school facilities up to the families of attending students.
While Choctaw-Nicoma Park Schools have long been reopened to in-person learning following the many uncertainties brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, things aren’t quite back to normal.
Added measures restrict parents from visiting their children at school and participating in class parties and events.
L.W. Westfall Elementary recently lifted such restrictions, and now parents of students at other district sites are asking to see the same policy change.
A change.org petition recently launched and quickly gained over 500 signatures in support of reopening Indian Meridian Elementary and James Griffith Intermediate to parents.
“IME/JGI students and families have been deprived of school events for far too long. As a parent of a fifth-grade student, I am saddened at the thought of missing out on my child’s very last ever winter holiday party. Our kids want and need us parents there, and I know that we parents reciprocate those feelings,” said coordinator Melissa Hogan, who has been a longtime supporter of teachers and staff, but is vocal in opposition of the current closed-door policy. “Keeping the doors shut to our schools hurts the children on so many levels, and our children and parents deserve to be able to make memories together for things like these parties, assemblies, and other special events.”
She’s not alone in wanting to participate in her children’s educational experience.
Another similar petition was launched targeting reopening the entire district to full-time normal in-person learning practices and that one quickly passed the 600-signature mark.
Choctaw Elementary, Nicoma Park and Indian Meridian/James Griffith Intermediate sites still restrict access to parents.
Superintendent David Reid says these decisions are left to the principals of the district’s nine school sites as many administrators and teachers still have concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Reid coordinated a meeting of principals to discuss the issue last week and will meet again this week, but all school sites in the district likely won’t be open until sometime after winter break.
“Westfall Elementary Is the only elementary school that has opened for parties. The rest of the elementary sites in our district do not feel it is safe at this time. However, it will be looked into and possibly changed for the second semester,” said Reid.
“We hope to have things opened up a lot more after Christmas break. Of course, we will need to see what the spread of COVID-19 is within our district at that time.”
Hogan and her supporters say this treatment of students and family members is unacceptable in a district with such low COVID-19 cases and high parent involvement.
“The decision to continue to not allow parents to participate is strictly up to our principals; this is not a district rule. There are other schools in our CNP district that are welcoming families back in to participate in school events,” said Hogan. “Our active covid case numbers are currently the same or lower than the schools who are opening their doors. And even for the district as a whole, the covid numbers are still much lower than a typical flu season. There is absolutely no reason why JGI/IME should not be allowed to open theirs.”
The petition can be found online at: CHANGE.ORG