More than 100 turn out for rally demanding WCPSS schools reopen

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – More than 100 parents and students rallied outside the Wake County Public School System’s administrative building on Thursday demanding a choice to return to school immediately.

“I think we’re being cheated out of our rights as students,” said Madelyn Cook, a junior at Middle Creek High School. “To be in school (and) to be learning with our teachers.”

Tara-Anne Johnson wants her children back in the classroom.

“This virus is not what is hurting our children,” she said. “Mental-health issues are hurting our children. Educational inequality is hurting our children.”

This week, the WCPSS school board voted to allow K-8 students to gradually return to school for in-person learning over the next two months while keeping high school students online through the end of the semester.

“Junior year is the hardest year and it got 10-times worse since we’re online now,” said Madison Forrest, a junior at Fuquay-Varina High School. “We do have way harder classes and we’re trying to build a future for ourselves and we can’t do that unless we’re in school with teachers and we have the opportunity to ask questions.”

Cook added: “I just feel it’s unfair to have high schoolers stay at home when it’s hard for us to learn over Zoom. It’s just not the same thing as being in school, especially when middle school is going back.”

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) didn’t comment specifically on the rally, but sent this statement:

“As NCAE has been saying since the start of this pandemic, returning to in-person instruction is the goal for every educator in North Carolina, but it must be done safely to ensure the health of both educators and students,” said NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly. “Local school districts already have significant flexibility to open for in-person instruction, and loosening guidelines further is flirting with danger. Maintaining a minimum six-foot social distance at all times is a critical safety measure for both educators and students, and we will not recommend for any educator to enter a non-distancing classroom without a properly fitted N-95 mask to protect their health, and the health of everyone around them.”

“I do believe that we need to take safety precautions, of course,” said Johnson. “But when restaurants are open, bars are open, and amusement parks are now open, and some of our children are now working in those places, but schools are not open, that’s a serious problem.”

CBS17 reached out to WCPSS for a comment on the rally, but has not heard back.

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