By Kimberly Davis

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Some families in Cherry Hill are protesting the district’s all-virtual start to the school year. The group is demanding that in-person learning starts now, but with strict guidelines in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

A week before school was to begin, the Cherry Hill School District announced it would only offer remote learning after several parents and teachers shared concerns about returning in-person and with the ventilation system.

The district also received a large number of absence requests from teachers.

Some Cherry Hill parents believe it’s time to send students back into the school building.

“He’s not learning about much. You need that interaction with his friends and stuff, and that’s not happening,” said protest organizer Rick Short.

After a week of remote learning, parents want the option of in-person learning now and not in November.

The Cherry Hill parents who gathered for a protest late Tuesday afternoon says remote learning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“Everybody’s been everywhere and the ones who haven’t are still at home and they’re going to stay virtual. They have a choice, why don’t we have a choice?” said Jaimee Haas.

Another decision parents have been making is finding childcare where children can still learn remotely or stay at home to teach their children and lose their jobs.

That is a tough decision that Mila Beaver had to make.

“I had to go on a leave of absence in order to take care of my two sons,” she said.

Beaver says she moved to Cherry Hill because of the quality of education but says that’s not happening at home.

“We want everyone to go back to school and be safe, but at the same time, we want them to get the best education that they can possibly have,” she said.

In a statement, the school district says the facilities are ready to reopen, however, they must prioritize adequate training and staffing before returning to a hybrid model. “Our buildings were ready to open on the first day of school, September 8, 2020, and they are ready to open at any time. Our focus now is to make sure our staff have the training and support they need and to make sure we have adequate staffing — including substitutes as necessary — to move to the hybrid learning model. We plan to start the hybrid model on November 9, 2020. We will continue to evaluate the many circumstances that could affect that date. If that date changes to an earlier or later one, we will inform our families.”

Kimberly Davis

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