Loudoun Co. schools chief responds after frustrated parent’s comments go viral

'Figure it out!' (Listen to WTOP reporter Nick Iannelli's audio report)

The head of a Northern Virginia school system is asking for patience, grace, flexibility and comfort with the unknown amid increased media attention after a parent expressed his frustration during a school board meeting on school reopening.

Following Tuesday’s School Board meeting there has been increased media attention paid to Loudoun County, specifically regarding the reopening of schools. This has led to some inflammatory rhetoric being shared on social media and in email and phone communications with staff,” Interim Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler said in a letter to the school community.

A parent addressed the school board during the public comment portion and called its members “cowards hiding behind our children as an excuse for keeping schools closed.”

Video of what happened was shared by Aliscia Andrews, who was a Republican candidate for the 10th District House seat in last year’s election.

The father mentioned statistics that claim that the vast majority of people are not at risk for the virus. More than 400,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19.

The parent then said that garbage workers risk their lives every day more than anyone in the school system, before telling the school board to, “Figure it out, or get off the podium! Because you know what? There are people like me and a lot of other people out there who will gladly take your seat and figure it out.”

Ziegler said that Loudoun County Public Schools staff, the school board and himself, along with the community, have the common goal to return students to school safely as soon as possible.

“We may disagree on the methods and timetable to return students to in-person learning, but I would like us to agree that we all have our students’ best interests at heart,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler said the subject of getting students back to classrooms can provoke many emotions, including frustration and anger, and he asks that the school community consider “Patience, Flexibility, Comfort with the Not-Yet-Known, and Grace.”

The school board will vote next Tuesday on a plan that would have pre-K through fifth grade students — whose parents chose hybrid learning — back in school buildings no later than Feb. 16.

If approved, middle and high schoolers whose parents have already opted in to the model would return to classrooms for two days per week by March 3.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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