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Dozens protest in Harford County calling for schools to reopen

Posted at 10:44 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 07:05:25-04

BEL AIR, Md. — Dozens of parents and students protested in Bel Air on Thursday night. They want Harford County to reopen schools for in-person learning.

“I’m hoping that they reconsider and go back to a hybrid model," said Karen Schandelmeier, who has two kids in the school system and organized the protest. "If not, then at least do it for the first marking period and then reconsider.”

Close to 50 people demonstrated outside of the county schools building and marched to Main Street downtown, chanting "Let Them In" and "Put Kids First".

“This will be his first year in school. He is going to be a kindergartner and they are going to take away his first day of school," said Kayla Mariskanish.

Kayla and her husband Robert said the school’s current plan for an all virtual fall semester will only hurt their kids, especially 5-year-old Westyn.

“I don’t know how he is going to sit in front of a computer and do virtual learning because he can’t even sit in front of a T.V," Kayla said.

Rising senior Shelby Gore said she struggled with virtual learning in the spring. More importantly, Gore said she doesn’t want to miss out on her last year.

“I’m going to get to miss out on choir [and] swim team. Just being an environment with other kids. And that’s something that keeps me going,” Gore said.

Last month, Harford County Schools decided to hold an all-virtual fall semester. The plan is to provide laptops and internet access to all students and teachers, as well as opening learning support centers for a limited amount of students.

“There was zero survey to the parents to the taxpayers to ask what their preference was. Now, a lot of families are scrambling on what to do," said Schandlemeier.

Parents like Kayla and Robert feel it’s safe enough to open schools for all students and teachers as long as they follow CDC guidelines.

“We’ll all be safe," Robert said. "Masks, hand washing, hand sanitizers, cleaning, and sterilizing. It’s their education that is a must.”

The county’s plan isn’t final. While there’s still time, the protesters are hoping their voices will be heard.

"I feel like people being out here is really important so the public knows there are different options," said Gore.

The Harford County Board of Education will meet on Monday night to vote on the current plan. The meeting is being done virtually and starts at 6:30 p.m. To see the agenda and submit a comment in writing to the board, click here.