Parents rally against Grosse Pointe schools not offering in-person learning

One sign read "Back to the class room - Refuse to be ruled by fear - it's in Gods Hands - Let them live, love, laugh, + learn."

Another one read "Learning is NOT a spectator sport."

That's what banners outside a protest of about 40 parents and kids demonstrating against the Grosse Pointe school district read Sunday afternoon.

Following an announcement from the district's superintendent that said virtual options for learning would be the only education plan offered to start the year, several angry parents made an appearance outside one of the schools to voice their displeasure. 

"I have a 15-year-old son and he can't do online learning," said Tracy Skupien. "He's distracted, he can't concentrate, he can't focus, he can't get work done. It was a disaster in the spring."

"If the rest of the schools, Detroit Public Schools will have in-class learning - Catholic schools (as well) - there's no reason we can't do the hybrid learning plan here, now," said Francis Charbonneau.

Ironically, the source of much of the protests against education plans for the fall semester has come from Detroit. There, many teachers, staff, and parents actively protested against the use of in-class learning during summer school. The demonstrations led to blocking buses, lawsuits, and arrests on some mornings. 

Detroit Public Schools remains one of the few major districts in the state that is still planning on offering a hybrid learning option for kids. Many others have opted to only offer virtual plans to start the year. 

This protest effort emerged from a Facebook group put in motion after the superintendent for Grosse Pointe Public Schools announced the school district will start the year with remote learning only, offering a plan to reintroduce students to in-person learning when appropriate. 

In Grosse Pointe, the district said it would transition into a hybrid option once it was safe to do so. Per protester's reading of the governor's MI Safe Schools Return to Schools Roadmap plan for districts, the option of hybrid learning is already permitted in the county.

"We are in phase 4, therefore we are allowed to have hybrid learning in school," said Charbonneau.

Superintendent Gary Niehaus also offered the following statement 

"The recommendation is to start the 2020 - 2021 school year in Remote Learning and One GP Virtual.  Remote Learning would gradually turn to In-Person when the time is right for the safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff."