Loudoun County, Virginia, students implored education officials to reopen classrooms at a school board meeting Tuesday night, invoking the stresses of distance learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the kids needed step stools to reach the microphone during the school board’s public comment period, but their words were clear and their pain apparent.
“I don’t like to do distance learning, because I feel stressed and my eyes hurt. I have headaches, and I have a hard time doing work by myself,” said Zac Brody.
Several of the students complained about spending too much time in front of the screen and missing their friends and teachers.
“I used to like school but now I hate it, even though my teacher is really nice,” said John Brody. “I feel like I’m not learning as much. Every day I ask, ‘When do I get to go back to school?”
Nearly all Loudoun public school students are participating entirely in virtual learning. There are plans for a phased reopening beginning in mid-October with special education students and English language learners.
One of the students speaking out highlighted the unique challenges distance learning poses to special education students who are on Independent Education Plans.
“I have a brother in I.E.P., I watch him struggle every day and cry. He can’t finish his work alone, so I have to go and I have to leave my time and help him. My mom works and it’s a struggle,” said Sasha Rahee, an eighth grader at Brambleton Middle School.
Teachers and administrators agree that it’s important to get kids back into their classrooms as soon as it’s safe to do so. The students speaking out to the school board emphasized the need for urgency.
“It is essential that we go back to school. I spend hours a day online, staring at a screen. I now get headaches from looking at screens and bright lights and I cannot learn,” said Olivia Rose, a junior at Dominion High School.
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