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'Safe Return to Learn' Hanover holds demonstration in favor of virtual learning

Posted at 2:30 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 16:00:40-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- A group of Hanover teachers, parents and community members participated in a "mock crowded classroom demonstration" Thursday morning.

The organization, Safe Return to Learn-Hanover, is advocating for a ‘safe return to learn,’ which they said meant a majority virtual return to school in the fall. It's a decision they say will protect teachers, staff, administrators, students and their families.

The group says the goal of Thursday's demonstration was to show close students will be to each other and how it will impact the school day based on the dimensions of an average classroom.

The demonstration comes one day after the organization held a car rally to speak out against the Hanover County School District’s ‘Return to Learn’ plan for reopening schools in September.

Last week, the Hanover County School Board voted to give families the option for fully in-person or fully virtual learning.

“This is not what we should be doing,” Rory Tufaro, Librarian at Cold Harbor Elementary School, said. “I mean no other county around us is doing this.”

Dozens of cars rallied, making their way to the Hanover County School Board Offices, where they honked horns and waved signs.

Rally organizers said the group as a whole was pushing for the district to take teachers' concerns into consideration, and enroll the majority of students in online learning — at least for the first quarter.

Chris Whitley, Spokesperson for Hanover County Public Schools, said the district had been deliberate in involving teachers and staff in the development of their plan to reopen schools.

In fact, he said the district’s Return to Learn Task Force was comprised of approximately 100 stakeholders, including teachers, support staff, principals, parents, students, and others. He said their voices would continue to be heard, including in a townhall Meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

In a questionnaire previously sent to families, 76% opted for in-person versus virtual learning, according to Whitley.