Parents, students rally in Arlington Heights and Schaumburg to reopen schools
As school districts wrestle with plans to reopen their buildings to in-person learning in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and students continue to raise their voices.
Multiple rallies were held Saturday in an effort to apply greater pressure on school districts to speed up the process of getting students back in classrooms in front of teachers.
One rally of about 300 people was held at North School Park in Arlington Heights for students in Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 and Glenbrook High School District 225. Another rally of about 50 people at Schaumburg Town Square was held for Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and Schaumburg Elementary District 54.
Paul Vallas, former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, told the crowd in Arlington Heights the issue of reopening schools has become more about politics and less about science. He urged parents and students to keep speaking out.
"For the young people, this is something worth protesting," he said. "Don't let people take control of your future."
District 214 and District 25 unveiled plans on Thursday for a mix of in-person and remote learning to begin as early as Oct. 12. Oliver Gradek, a fifth grader at Patton Elementary School in Arlington Heights and one of the speakers at the rally, is already looking forward to it.
"Oct. 13 is going to feel like Christmas morning to me but I want to feel like that every day," he said.
District 211 hopes to begin a mix of in-person and remote learning the week of Oct. 26. District 54 awaits Thursday's presentation of a reopening plan to the board of education.
Evan Steel, a second-grader at John Muir Literacy Academy in Hoffman Estates, said he doesn't like remote learning because he can't be with his friends or teachers. It was a sentiment echoed by Bella Gale, an eighth-grader at Lincoln Prairie School in Hoffman Estates, who also attended the Schaumburg rally.
"It's hard not being able to play sports or see my friends," Gale said. "I feel like I learn more in school because you have more interaction with everyone, not only your teachers but your friends."
Hersey High School student Erin Neary told the crowd in Arlington Heights she's already missed out on too much of her senior year.
"It's very challenging to prepare for college when I haven't been in a classroom since March," she said. "High school hasn't seemed real for way too long."