Students Start Petition to Have Their Voices Heard

As a result of the recent shift from hybrid to remote learning, a few students are taking a stand, hoping to get back in the classroom.

When Maura and Jenna Dorr discovered that the school committee took a revote on Monday, August 17th, switching from hybrid learning to fully remote for the start of the school year, they were shocked and felt compelled to have their voices heard. As a result, the twin rising seniors created a petition, which already has 500 signatures.

Jenna and Maura Dorr, rising high school seniors are leading the charge to get back in the classroom.

“As leaders of the senior class, Jenna and I wanted to revisit the original laid out plan that 78% were in favor of,” said Maura. “Virtual learning is very ineffective. Information is very difficult to obtain, never mind all the distractions that come with it. It is very easy to fall behind in a class or get lost in a subject. That’s why this is so important to us.”

Maura said that in addition to the 500 signatures, many parents, students and community members have reached out in other ways to show support.

According to an online survey sent to parents, 78% voted to have their students back to a full/hybrid learning model and 22% voted remote or undecided.

“We’ve worked two jobs this summer interacting with the public on a daily basis. We’ve worn masks up to eight hours. And we, like many of our friends, have shown that it can be done safely.”

The twins are questioning why everything else is reopening, while their education is being put on the back burner.

“Last March when we were sent home, within a few weeks almost everything was shut down,” said Jenna. “We put our education on hold to help stop the spread of the virus. Now as almost everything has begun to reopen, our education is still on hold. School is more important than going to malls, church, and even summer camps. We have found ways to safely go out in public, and take the precautionary measures needed. We are also in a new school building and have a much smaller student population than many of our surrounding towns.”

The twins are well aware that some of their teachers might disagree with the petition, considering the new decision was heavily influenced by teachers. One of the deciding factors in the revote was the high number of teachers not returning to an in-person setting. During the last school committee meeting, it was announced that 25 teachers and five paraprofessionals will not be returning to a hybrid learning model due to medical conditions and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), creating a major deficit in the district.

“I know some of my teachers might disagree with my opinions, but I hope they respect what I have to say and are proud that I am sticking up for myself and my classmates. My teachers have always been my role models throughout my years in the Winthrop Public Schools. They’ve taught me to stand up for what I believe in and not back down. I respect the difficult position they are in, but as I look around, I see my parents, police, firefighters, and others standing up against the virus. For many teachers, this is just another year on the calendar. For my classmates and I, this is our once in a lifetime senior year. There are no do overs, and every day is valuable and special to us.” 

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