Dunlap High School students petition gets over 1,600 signatures

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DUNLAP, Ill. (WMBD) — Standing up to the school board.

Close to 2,000 people have signed petitions after four Dunlap High School students say the board’s Return to Learning decision won’t work.

“The disparity that this plan causes, kind of enunciates those problems even more. I think this plan does a disservice to both the people in-person and the people learning remotely,” said Dunlap Senior Anjali Yedavalli.

“I feel like the current selection plan for the 2020, 2021 school year is a disservice to the teachers who have worked so hard for us these past few years and that give their all. Especially because the plan goes against their working conditions, and it doesn’t allow for compensation or hazard pay at all,” Dunlap Senior Rafael Davis said.

Board members voted Wednesday, July 29, to offer parents two choices.

  • Bring students back for five full days a week, in-person.
  • Let students do 100 percent e-learning.

The students who started this petition, saying this plan is not what Dunlap needs, and in the last few days they’ve gained a lot of community support.

“After hearing the testimonies from different parents and teachers, we all felt like something needed to change. In 4 days, we’ve had about 1,600 signatures from a lot of the Dunlap community,” said Dunlap Senior and creator of the petition, Aryan Paul.

One of the student’s concerns is for the specialty classes.

“The fact is that with a full day of teaching, some teachers don’t have the time in their schedules to also handle remote learning. And for some classes, such as the higher APs and more specialized classes, when there’s only one or two classes for that type, those teachers might not be available in their schedules to teach it. So some of that might have to be outsourced,” said Dunlap Senior Aasiyah Adnan.

The students hope their petition helps bring change that promotes public health for students and staff.

“We want to focus on the reconsideration of current plan. That’s our focus right now, but in a perfect world, any sort of consideration for the hybrid learning or fully remote learning would be very beneficial for us,” Yedavalli said.

Rafael Davis said he’s seen school districts in other states reopen already, and he says the outcome hasn’t been good.

“There are schools in the region, specifically in Indiana, that have already open, and had kids tested positive and so they had to quarantine the day they started. So I believe the hybrid or condensed option would be the best way to start this school year, so if a spike does happen, we can easily transition as a district into a fully remote,” Davis said.

Originally, the board was looking at two options. There was the full-time option, and then a condensed schedule, limiting the time kids would be physically in the classroom.

“I’m proud of the fact they’re finding the proper avenue of voicing their concerns.  I can respect the fact they’re using what they’ve learned,” said Dr. Scott Dearman, Superintendent of Dunlap Schools.

Dearman says he doesn’t actually vote on the return to school proposal, he can only give recommendations.

He’s unsure if the petition will cause the board to reconsider their decision, and says the board will meet again on August 12.

You can find the petition here.

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