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Union High School students petition for distance learning

Posted at 9:23 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 14:26:12-04

TULSA, Okla. — With less than two weeks until the first day of school, some Union High School students are trying to move in-person classes to online.

Union is one of the largest public school districts in Oklahoma, and these students think in-person classes are unsafe in a pandemic.

“We’re all used to very crowded hallways at Union," said Kylie Hammack, a senior at Union. "There’s no way that you can get even a foot away from someone.”

The Union Board of Education denied a recommendation from Superintendent Kirt Hartzler Monday night to start the year with distance learning. So, some students created a petition to get it approved.

READ MORE: Union Public Schools denies motion to conduct distance learning this fall

“It’s inevitable that students are going to get sick," said Addison Darby, a senior at Union. "So, even if we get to start school in person, we’re going to have to go home to distance learning.”

While these students are advocating for distance learning, many parents at Monday night’s board meeting disagreed, saying their children want and need to be in school.

“Without the essential services of in-person teaching, our children have fallen behind academically," one Union parent said during the public comment period.

"If you take away sending them into school, you’re going to have kids at home by themselves because some parents just don’t have options," another parent said.

“She wants to come to school," a third parent said. "Don’t take that away from them if they chose to come.”

Union is giving students an option to do virtual learning. One student says her parents are immunocompromised so she will be in school online, but she won’t be able to take all of the classes she wants.

“Junior year is really when everyone takes their six AP classes," said Meghana Venkatesha, a junior at Union. "It’s like the hard-core year, but I don’t get to do that anymore.”

The students said they’re nervous about the first day of school. They worry for their safety and their teachers.

“I would love to be here in person with my friends doing all of our senior activities, but I would rather be safe," said Julian Ober, a senior at Union. "One student loss is one too many."

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