By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The Open Bend La Pine Schools Facebook page was only created a week and a half ago.
But as of Thursday, it has over 1,600 members.
“At first I thought, oh maybe we’ll get 100 moms together to make some noise, and then it just kept growing and growing and growing,”
Kelly Vlach, founder of the Facebook group, said.
The page is a place for parents to share stories, frustrations and ideas for getting kids back into the classroom.
“I think it’s been really interesting to see how many people are having the same thoughts and feelings and just didn’t have a way to speak up or know how to voice their opinions,” Indu Fairbanks, an admin for the group, said.
Ashley Level is a parent of three kids in the Bend La Pine School District and a member of the Facebook group.
She said she had to quit her job to be with her kids at home to help them with online learning at home.
Her son, a third-grader, especially struggles with the online format.
“Every day starts with tears, every day ends with tears,” Level said. “I mean we have four children here. We have a hotspot and I bought a new router, but every day it kicks them off. You can just see how frustrating it is.”
Level is especially worried about the mental health of students who are doing school online.
“What about the mental health metrics?” Level said. “All these kids at home alone all day, these pre-teens, whose bodies are changing? Our suicide rate is going to skyrocket if we do not do something now.”
Level suggested that parents log their children off of distance learning for several weeks in protest in an attempt to un-enroll students and impact the district’s budget.
Some other parents on the page suggested writing to local officials.
In the end, efforts to pressure the district many not make a difference, since re-opening metrics and guidelines are set by the state.
Vlach and Fairbanks hope parents will log off for online learning just for this upcoming Monday to participate in a rally they are organizing, which will be a part of the statewide Reopen Oregon Schools Rally and Strike.