Albemarle County parent creates petition in favor of hybrid learning model

Parents and teachers debate whether or not it's safe for their children to learn in the classroom

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - As the school year approaches, many parents are wondering what is best for their children’s education with the coronavirus still in the air. That is why one Albemarle County parent is strongly urging the school board to base their final decision on science and not fear.

Martha Peck knows her first grade son Cullen wants to go back to school and she is in favor of the idea. “COVID is out there. We have to learn how to live with it,” Peck said.

As a nurse anesthetist at the University of Virginia Medical Center, Peck has seen the effects of the coronavirus firsthand. “If we act responsibly as members of this community and follow the guidelines that are out there wearing masks, we can keep our spread low,” she said.

Earlier in the month, teachers from the Albemarle County Public Schools sent out a petition asking the Albemarle County School Board and Superintendent Matthew Haas to plan for an all-virtual learning model.

“When the petition came out from the teachers union last week, there was a sense of hopelessness and abandonment by a lot of parents. I think if we don’t return, the chasm between the classes is just going to like explode,” Peck said.

That’s when Peck took matters into her own hands. She created a petition and sent it out to parents in Albemarle County asking school board members and Haas to strongly consider the hybrid learning model.

“Parents want their kids to go back. I know if we follow the guidelines set up by the CDC and our community spread is not on the rise, they will be fine in the school. I think our teachers will be fine,” Peck said.

Kate Acuff has been an Albemarle County Public School Board member for seven years.

“Whatever educational plan we go forward with, we will be focused on getting all children involved, making sure we have high quality education,” Acuff said.

Acuff said this is one of the hardest decisions she has ever had to help make.

“It’s not an easy decision. The letters and even this petition that we got is really parents doing what they’re supposed to do to advocate for their children,” Acuff said.

Peck is trying to use her experience on the front lines as a healthcare worker and voice as a parent to make a difference.

“Whatever decision is made I’m going to support it, but I want people to make this decision collaboratively and in our community based on science,” Peck said.

Peck’s petition has received 300 signatures so far. On July 30, the board will make their final decision on whether the schools will start the year using the virtual or hybrid model.

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