Will Chambersburg schools reopen – the school board meets tomorrow night

February 22 – The Chambersburg Area School Board will discuss reopening the schools at a meeting tomorrow night at 7 p.m. via Zoom. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen of the Big Talk on 103.7FM discussed the issue today, 22 February 2021. One of the crucial factors in reopening schools is the mental health of the students.

This weekend on Political Vibe on News Talk 103.7 FM, Melanie Gabriel was interviewed. This 13-year-old student, originally from Oregon, started an organization called Open Schools USA.

The well-spoken middle school student has been through a lot in her young life. During the interview she said, “Most of my friends are either suicidal or have attempted. My friend shot himself in the head and had a five percent recovery rate, but he’s doing amazing.”

In terms of what students are actually learning, Melanie had this to say: “A lot of my classmates log on and then turn their camera off and then go play Xbox. My math teacher will be calling somebody’s name 20 times and they won’t respond because they’re not actually in class.”

Barkdoll noted that when Melanie started the organization, she received a lot of push back from teachers and administrators. So much so that her family had to relocate to Vancouver, WA, where she still remains in virtual school.

Every few months, the school board in Melanie’s district will say a reopening is coming, but it never happens.

Ryan added, “It’s time to take this stuff back out of these admins and these layers of management and these fabulous pensions and these terrific health care things and no results of it.”

“We are failing these kids,” Barkdoll said. “That’s the bottom line. It’s almost like a lost year of life when it comes to schooling and you just wonder what the snowball effect of this is in the years to come.”

Melanie’s experience is pretty universal, which brings up the question, what will happen to our students locally?

The decision could be made tomorrow night.

Virtual teaching is “not up to the level of in-school teaching,” Jansen noted. “I don’t necessarily fault teachers for this. Teaching virtually is difficult and to do it for this long and expect students to stay? They’re not. They’re not getting taught the same way as they would be in class.”

Ryan added that in California, school board members were caught on tape bad-mouthing parents and he’s definitely seen an attitude out of some of the local school board members. “If you don’t want the gig and you can’t handle the public, then walk away from the job. Please. We beg you. You’re doing a huge disservice to so many children.”