As a single mom with a son who has a learning disability, Melissa Turner struggled when Farmington Public Schools closed in March to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I was at my wit’s end,” said Turner, who works as an engineer. “He was also struggling and having anxiety. He can’t learn in a virtual setting.”
In late July, Turner formed a Facebook group to organize parents who felt as she did that the district should start the year with kids in classrooms at least part of the week. While members made their case during public comment at board meetings, school board trustees voted on August 11 to continue remote learning through October 30.
Turner enrolled her son in a private school that offers in-person classes, but she remained passionate in her belief that students belong in the classroom, even during the pandemic. And she found other parents who felt district leaders weren’t hearing their concerns.
Before the Tuesday, October 6, school board meeting, parents and students will gather in the four corners at Grand River and Farmington Road in Farmington to share their “Let Them In – or Count Them Out” message.
The protest is a precursor to parents keeping their children offline on October 7, the state’s official Count Day. Attendance on the first Wednesday in October and the second Wednesday in February determine the district’s state funding.
“We want to get the word across and come together as a community,” Turner said. “We really don’t feel they’re listening. We’re very disheartened by the way they’re dealing with this.”
Turner said it’s especially frustrating to see neighboring districts return to in-person learning. Livonia Public Schools brought students back on October 5 with a hybrid plan that has groups of students alternating Monday-Thursday, and all students in school on Fridays.
Among other neighboring districts, West Bloomfield started the year with elementary and middle school students in a hybrid model and high school students fully remote. Novi is looking at bringing K-6 students back four days a week. Southfield students are all still engaged in remote learning.
Turner said the Facebook group has more than 200 members, with interest growing as Farmington Schools families struggle with online learning. You’ll find more information about the group here: facebook.com/groups/575954019753487
To learn more about the Tuesday event, visit facebook.com/events/969763336869934.