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Parents in Carmel concerned about school safety plan

Posted at 10:09 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 22:09:39-04

CARMEL — Some parents are not confident in Carmel-Clay schools' safety plan as students are set to return to class on Thursday.

Those parents said they want more options for safely learning, especially as more and more cases of COVID-19 are reported at school districts across the area.

"It's pretty frightening," Stephanie Stewart said.

Stewart wants to send her children to school, but safely, she said.

Carmel high school and middle school students were given the options of in-person learning, completely virtual or a hybrid. Elementary students, however, were not.

"I just wish they would make it 50 percent capacity," Stewart said. "It would be so much more manageable. Two days e-learning, two days at home. It would help the parents at home who work from home like me."

"Why not be safer than sorry?" Barbara LeMay said. "I mean it's our children."

LeMay has decided to keep her kids home and do solely e-learning but she said not everyone has the means or ability to do that.

"Not everybody has that choice," LeMay said. "And we are not listening to those people. Their choice is to send their kids in person which is dangerous or nothing."

Stewart is also worried about students being spaced only three feet apart, according to the CCS plan, as opposed to six feet.

"I mean three feet they will be reaching their arms and touching each other," Stewart said.

It's something Dr. Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, addressed on Thursday saying it's safe enough to separate desks by only three feet.

"It's like we're in too much of a hurry to pretend there's not a great big world event happening and there is," LeMay said.

Parents fearing not just that people will get sick but also concerned about the inconsistency.

"If you have that many children crowded together, someone's bound to come down with it," Stewart said. "It will be two weeks at home. Back to school. Back home again. Back and forth. That inconsistency is also so disruptive to learning and so difficult for parents to manage."

Stewart took these concerns to the superintendent but the district is not budging on offering hybrid for elementary students.

"You talk to the health department and they point to the schools and say we are giving them the freedom so they can be nimble I heard yesterday," Stewart said. "Well, it's not nimble. There's a huge loophole and the parents are caught in the gap and they have no recourse and that, quite frankly, is unacceptable."

The superintendent said the reason elementary students are not offered the hybrid option is because it's believed they can follow the guidelines set by the medical community and it's the best educational program they can offer K through 5 students. With the number of students in the high school and middle school, they did not believe they could follow proper safety guidelines and social distancing.