IRMO, S.C. — Monday evening, ahead of Lexington-Richland Five’s school board meeting, students protested returning to five days of face-to-face learning.
School District Five currently has all students learning face-to-face four days a week and Wednesday serves as a distance learning day. Starting February 1, they’ll move to five days.
"I think it’s absolutely necessary 100% that they be in person," said parent Nicole Dozier at the protest.
About 30 students came to protest returning to five days of in-person learning, but Dozier brought her family to show their support for the re-entry plan.
"I had to quit my job when schools went out last year. My husband was deployed until December, so it was just me we literally had no other choice," explained Dozier. "It’s kept me from getting a job. It's impacted us pretty heavily so I'm very thankful our board is choosing to go back to five days in February."
On the other side, high school teacher Drew Walker said most of his students aren’t coming to class because they don’t feel safe due to COVID-19.
"This board is not speaking for the majority, it is speaking for the loudest," Walker said during public comment of the board meeting. He said most think it's too early to return to five days of in-person learning.
"If one of my students or one of my friends dies because of this, that is on you," Walker said while pointing at board members.
Despite the concerns, district superintendent Dr. Christina Melton said the district is going to try the next phase and will keep safety top of mind.
This next phase will go into effect for all students, except for those enrolled in the district’s virtual academy.
According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are 63 positive cases among students and 20 among staff as of Friday.