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Parents and students protest virtual learning recommendation in Elkhart County

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 5:48 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Hours before Elkhart County Health officer Dr. Lydia Mertz issued a reversal on Thursday’s recommendation to start the school year with virtual learning, hundreds of protesters rallied outside the health department.

Many of the people 16 News Now spoke to throughout the day say the Elkhart County Health officer, school superintendents, and school boards are ignoring their voices when it comes to their thoughts on how to start off school.

Many protesters echoing the words Dr. Mertz said last Friday when she recommended starting the school year off in-person for schools in Elkhart County, claiming the advantages to having students in the classroom outweighs the risks that come with gathering during the coronavirus pandemic.

People were aware not all plans are set in stone during these uncertain times, but protesters are still asking Dr. Mertz why she reversed her recommendation from having students in the classroom to starting the school year online in the matter of one week.

"Yes I understand that it's the coronavirus and its fluid, but less than 24-hour notice from when you were still sending out correspondence that it was safe for our kids to be in the classroom, that is just insane and insanity to me," said protester Christy Fister.

The new order still asks school districts to stop all extracurricular activities that can't follow social distancing guidelines, including fall sports and band.

“The more you play, the more coaches see you, the more opportunity you have. I think that increased exposure with games will give him that opportunity. He has a good opportunity for scholarship money and I feel that’s being taken away from him,” said the parent of a North Ridge High School athlete.

Roughly 300 people attended the protest at its peak.

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