Fargo mom petitioning for full-time in-person learning

Woman wants her kids in school five days a week.
News - 6:00PM News August 20 - Part 2
News - 6:00PM News August 20 - Part 2
Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 6:54 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

A Fargo mom wants her kids in school five days a week, and she is rallying other parents through an online petition. It's in response to Fargo Public Schools' decision to start the school year with hybrid learning.

"I don't think I'm alone in just feeling very confused and frustrated and very worried about our kids and worried about our teachers," said Fargo mother Abby Kiland.

Abby Kiland's three children go to Centennial Elementary School in south Fargo.

“You’re not alone; you’re not the only one that’s thinking ‘what am I going to do? How is this going to affect my kids?’” said Kiland.

She said she feels like Fargo Public Schools dropped a bomb on them with hybrid learning, and now she’s left picking up the pieces.

"How it has come about, I'm not totally sure how that decision came," said Kiland.

With childcare centers like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club scrambling to find space, she wants kids back in school full time.

"Then we have schools that are filtering into these childcares, and all we're doing is sharing more germs, and sure they're going to do their part in masking and washing, but how it that keeping our teachers any more safe," said Kiland.

Kiland’s petition drive has more than 80 signatures and offers up two options, having kids in school Monday through Thursday and Friday to sanitize or having kids go to school every day but Wednesday, leaving that day to clean.

"If we're sticking to our smaller pods and sticking to the health and wellness of our teachers and our kids, in that smaller scale, we're much more likely to have success being able to go through the school year and go full time."

In response, the school district says the goal is to return to full in-person learning as soon as it is safe for all the students and staff, continuing to maximize opportunities for in-person learning to the best their ability based on student needs.

"Overall, I just want it to be a positive message of how we can come together and do something about this," said Kiland.

Kiland adds that we can't do this without working together and being together.

Here is the link to the petition.

According to a recent Fargo Public Schools survey, most parents wanted kids to go back to school. However, the majority of the staff wanted the hybrid learning model.

Here is the statement from Fargo Public Schools:

Fargo Public Schools is 100% committed to our mission to educate and empower all students to succeed. Fargo Public Schools developed our Smart Restart reentry plan to our schools for students and staff for the upcoming 2020 – 2021 school year, in compliance with all state requirements, and working with local, city, and state health officials. The plan is based on the following guiding principles:

  • Ensure the safety and well-being of all students and employees.
  • Promote equity and accessibility to learning for all students.
  • Provide instructional delivery systems to meet the needs of all students
  • Foster positive relationships and interactions

The plan includes five differing levels that vary the type of academic instruction based upon the type of risk our community may face due to COVID-19. The levels prepare our school district to be ready and nimble to change in case the risk for COVID-19 increases or decreases and we need to shift our instructional model for the safety of our students and staff, and in response to doing what the community needs us to do in order to limit the spread of this virus. We have a committee of 18 people, the COVID-19 Instructional Plan Committee, that has committed to meeting every two weeks to study local data and make an informed decision on what instructional model level to move forward with for Fargo Public Schools. On August 10, the committee decided to open our school year in Level 3 – Hybrid Instruction.

The goal of the Fargo Public Schools COVID-19 Instructional Plan Committee is to help Fargo Public Schools reach Level 5, where all students and staff can safely return to in-person instruction without restrictions. Specific criteria used to help make this determination includes, but are not limited to: guidance from the state, guidance from Fargo Cass Public Health, Cass County COVID-19 death rate, Cass County COVID-19 hospitalization rate, Cass County COVID-19 transmission rate, and considerations to the implementation of the FPS Smart Restart Plan. When considering specific Cass County data, a 14-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases will be used.

Our levels are based upon social distancing needs and our ability meet the various COVID-19 mitigation efforts. In Levels 2-5, the FPS plan offers an opportunity for students who need specialized instruction or have in-person needs to receive face-to-face instruction in smaller groups and in more controlled environments. One acknowledgement of the plan is that if all students are participating in in-person instruction at the same time, our physical space does not allow for physical distancing of six feet. This would increase the amount of students determined to be a close contact should the need to identify close contacts arise due to a positive case of COVID-19.

We recognize that anything other than in-person instruction is not ideal and places stressors on our families. Our goal is to return to full in-person instruction as soon as it is safe for all our students and staff. Additionally, we will continue to maximize opportunities for in-person learning to the best our ability based on student need. Working together to abide by recommendations and following protocols, we can get there as a community.

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