Community split on Virginia Beach school reopening plans; groups rally outside school board building

Posted at 11:09 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 23:33:52-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – This was the scene outside the school administration building Tuesday: A group of teachers and parents blowing their car horns in the parking lot, and another chanting "Back to School" on the lawn.

All this taking place while the school board members were at a work session inside the building.

Parent Erin Clark says, “I’m here to support options."

She wants school board members to reopen the schools this fall. Her son is a rising third grader who misses his teachers.

“He is sad. He does not like virtual learning. He has an IEP, so he has special needs. I can’t provide those services for him,” Clark adds.

Teachers with the Virginia Beach Education Association, dressed in red, say they don't feel comfortable going back inside the classroom.

“They don’t want to have to chose between their health and their jobs,” said Kelly Walker, President of the VBEA.

Other teachers say that's not the case.

“They are out there honking horns, but they aren’t thinking about the kids,” said one teacher at the podium during Tuesday night's public hearing.

The group rallying for students to go back to school says having both a virtual and person-to-person option is the way forward.

“I feel there is a right for people to go back in person if they are comfortable doing so, and if they aren’t, they can stay at home and virtually learn,” said Clark.

Both groups that attended were very passionate. Even though they have opposing views, they have the same ultimate goal - which is making sure students are educated in a safe environment.

“If one child gets it, that’s going to spread it to others. We are very mindful and worried that we are doing this too quickly,” said Walker.

Gov. Ralph Northam says reopening schools is tricky.

“It’s a recipe for disaster if the numbers in the community are high and we are sending out children into school,” the governor adds.

Some children who attended the rally say they are willing to take the chance.

"We should have a choice because everyone's family is different.”

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