COLUMBUS, Ohio — An initiative to get one school district in southwest Ohio to back down from potentially implementing split school days in the fall now has support from thousands of parents across the state and they're all looking for the same outcome where they live.

What You Need To Know

  • More than 55,000 people have signed the petition

  • Petition calls for no masks, no new normal and no mixed school days

  • Mixed school days would alternate kids between 2 days of remote learning and 2 days in school

  • A rally at ODE is currently being planned for May 29

Stay-at-home mom Alice Marrs quietly created sign art for a client as her kids caught up on some extra sleep.  
But these days, her voice is being heard loud and clear through a petition she created rallying against masks, a new normal and the possibility of mixed school days— that’s students rotating on a schedule of two days in school and two days out of school learning remotely.

So far, more than 55,000 people across Ohio have signed it. 

“It definitely was intended initially to be local and it made me feel like I wasn't crazy, like I wasn't the only person that didn't want this for kids,” said Marrs. 
Marrs said the idea of a rotating schedule puts working parents in a bind and doesn’t address equity issues like internet access or the structure needed for kids on individualized educational plans.

“Several parents that have reached out and said their children are in IEP, they need that structure, not the going back and forth.” 
While Marrs forges ahead with a signature goal of 75,000, Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, isn’t surprised by the reaction across the state.

“I completely understand and share a lot of skepticism about how feasible is going to be to have a half in half out of both, and that's, it's not going to be easy.” 
Speaking to legislators recently, DiMauro believes decisions about school schedules should be based on information from the state health department and what’s best for each individual district, since outbreaks of COVID-19 and school resources vary from county to county.

“If schools can meet those requirements, they should be open, if schools can't meet those requirements, then they shouldn't be open.”

Ultimately, how districts re-open next fall is about the safety of all students and staff, from his perspective.  
The Ohio Department of Education responded to the outcry of parents by saying, “…we are trying to be as inclusive as possible and it’s important that the concerns and ideas of everyone impacted are shared and heard. We always advise and encourage schools to work collaboratively with their local departments of health to determine what is safest for their specific community and population.”

They are also working with the Ohio PTA to get feedback as they consider guidance for school districts in Ohio. 
While Alice Marrs doesn’t believe the greatest risk kids face of getting COVID-19 is at school, she waits on that guidance.  
And while she waits, she’s already decided that if there’s a split school schedule in her area and masks have to be worn, she’ll pull her kids from public school.

“We've actually already started looking into accredited online school programs,” said Marrs. 
As of right now, Marrs and other parents have sent letters to superintendents. In the mean time, she's hoping to get 75,000 signatures before June 8 and sent to ODE, legislators and superintendents.

For now, the next major plan of action is a rally at the Department of Education in Columbus on May 29. As that's being planned, DiMauro said the government needs to step up to make sure there isn’t a lack of resources for kids, regardless of what learning looks like in the fall.