Fairfax Co. student leader asks fellow students to share concerns

As the student representative on the Fairfax County School Board in Northern Virginia, Nathan Onibudo has been receiving emails from frustrated parents and teachers who are worried about what the new school year will look like during the coronavirus pandemic.

But Onibudo said one thing he has not been receiving so frequently is messages from fellow students, and he called on them to share their concerns and expectations.

“There are students that are far less fortunate than I am who are stressing about various things,” Onibudo said. “I want to be a better advocate for them.”

During a Thursday school board meeting, Onibudo shared his own concerns about potentially having to spend more than 10 hours each school day working solely on his laptop.

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“What will that look like and do I even have the willpower to accomplish that?” Onibudo asked.

He encouraged students to visit his page on the school board’s website and send him a message.

“I may not be able to respond to everyone, but I need a window into the thoughts and minds of all my peers,” said Onibudo.

“If you have a question I’m here to try to get an answer for it.”

Onibudo’s comments came two days after the school board voted to approve the recommendation of Superintendent Scott Brabrand that the school year begin 100% virtually.

The school system, which serves 189,000 students and is the largest in Virginia, had given parents a choice of either all-virtual or a hybrid approach that would mean some in-person instruction.

Although the goal remains in-person instruction, Brabrand cited the recent surge of coronavirus cases around the region and nationwide for the new recommendation.

“We are pleased FCPS is putting students and staff safety first and listening to the science, educational experts and our community by opting for a 100% virtual start,” Tina Williams, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.

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