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Parents, students press Salt Lake City School District to hold classes on campus this fall

Between 150 and 200 people gathered outside the Salt Lake City School District Offices to protest students not being able to go back to class or play sports this fall. (Amy Donaldson | Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Hundreds of parents and students rallied outside the Salt Lake City School District (SLCSD) offices demanding a return to the classroom this fall. 

Many of the stories were the same, with several students arguing they are losing scholarships and sports opportunities.

 

Incoming Highland High School Senior Grace Conde wants to be back on campus in the fall because she believes more one-on-one, in-person instruction will boost her ACT scores and her chances of getting academic scholarships. 

She also worries about some of the less fortunate kids at her school. 

“I volunteered at our school’s food pantry, and there’s so many kids that come in and get food on the daily. They get hygiene kits, clothes, everything. There are kids who need an escape from home, and school is their safe haven,” Conde said. 

Protest organizer Mary Catherine Perry, whose children go to SLCSD, said many students did not logon to their online course work last time. She is concerned about the homes that do not have high speed internet, as many of those families also have parents who have to work outside the home. 

“They can’t stay home and take care of their kids; they must work. And, so, there’s no one home with them. There are kids that rely on the school for so many services that this remote learning puts our most at-risk kids in more risk,” Perry said. 

Another common complaint from those at the rally was opposing sports teams just a short distance away are being allowed to play, while the local squads are almost sidelined. Some say they are relying on a future sports scholarship to pay for college.

Many of the protesters, however, do want an online option for students or teachers who are most at-risk of getting a serious case of COVID-19. 

Ned Maxfield, whose wife is an educator and whose children go to East High School, believes the district can balance health concerns with the social and emotional benefits of being in class.

“With adequate protection, I think we’re going to be fine. You have to balance the health, the [economy], and the well-being of the kids. So, if you only look at one aspect…orange versus yellow, you miss the whole picture,” Maxfield said. 

The Salt Lake City School District had been planning on keeping all classes online because the city is still in an orange phase. However, the district is expected to make its final decision by the end of July.


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