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Two different rallies held in Racine Saturday debating potential return of in-person learning

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-23 18:12:15-05

RACINE — The debate of whether students within the Racine Unified School District should return for in-person learning continues. Parents arguing that their children should have the right to choose if they want to go back. While educators say it's still not safe.

"We don't think it's worth risking even one student, teacher, family member's life," said Angelina Cruz, president of Racine Educators United.

Members of Racine Educators United and other supporters started up their cars and took to the streets Saturday to voice their opposition to students returning to in-person learning within the Racine Unified School District.

"Public schools are the heart of the community and so it is our fear that they will become a hub a potentially spreading the virus further. There's just no way to know what the implications are going to be," said Cruz.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, children within the school district are learning virtually while some of their teachers instruct from inside their classrooms. And educators say until staff and students are vaccinated against the virus, virtual learning is the safest option.

"We have a vaccine. Wait for the vaccine. Let our teachers be vaccinated," said one grandparent, Diana Valencia.

But across town, it was a very different scene as parents, children, and city leaders rallied in support of having students return to in-person learning.

"Once we had to go on lockdown, my parents were like there’s no way we’re doing this anymore. So they got me into a new district that actually is in person," said former RUSD student, Isella Villarreal.

"I think in-person is better and I think everyone should be in person," said another former RUSD student, Natalie Thunhorst.

"There are a lot of kids that just can't learn at home, whether it's their temperament or whether their home life is just not set up for it, we just want the choice, "said one parent, Ally Docksey.

Both protests Saturday were held ahead of the Racine School Board's upcoming meeting Monday to discuss potentially bringing more students back into the building.

"I don't want to disrespect the school board or administrators, but put yourself in my shoes. I do not want to lose any more family members," said Valencia.

But supporters of in-person learning say the choice to return to school should ultimately be left up to the students.

"I understand that there are families that aren't ready to send their kids back to the classrooms and that's not something that we would ever want to force on anyone," said Docksey.

On Monday, the Racine school board will be providing an update regarding the district's remote learning plan. TMJ4 did reach out to the board for a comment regarding the pending decision but have not heard back.

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