Collierville students pen letter to school leaders about concerns going back into the classroom

Watch: Collierville students pen letter to school leaders about concerns going back into the classroom

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — A group of Collierville High School students said they’re very worried about the district’s plans to increase in-person learning from two to four days a week in January.

The group of 36 students sent a letter to the district’s leaders outlining their concerns.

“We understand that people have different opinions, but that being said, the opinion we hold is not being expressed,” the letter to the superintendent and school board members reads.

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“We’ve been shut down twice now going hybrid,” senior Taryn Miskowiec told FOX13. “I feel like it wouldn’t take us long to be shut down with all of us in the school.”

Some of the students said parents have been very vocal about getting kids back into the classroom full time. But they say students are the ones who are actually in school and they believe their opinion about whether to expand in-person classes should be considered as well.

“And with corona cases still rising, there’s a lot more chance that people could get it and a lot easier to spread it if we go four days in school,” student Natalie Christensen said. “It’ll be really hard to stay safe and keep yourself distanced.”

With each paragraph, the group outlined their concerns about increasing in-person learning from two days to four starting in January.

Miskowiec told FOX13 the letter was motivated by frustration and even the fear of what could happen with more kids at school.

“It does worry me that I could catch it in the hallways just randomly passing someone, not even in my classroom but just the hallway, in the stairwell, that could be the place where I have to stop my life for two weeks because I got corona,” she said.

In the letter, the students breakdown some of the recent COVID-19 records like the day when the state reported 3,500 new cases in one day.

“And we’re thinking of sending an entire high school, that happens to be larger than some private colleges, back to school fully in person!” the letter stated.

FOX13 requested a virtual interview with Superintendent Dr. Gary Lilly but a spokesperson said he wasn’t available.

Miskowiec said Dr. Lilly responded to their letter and she forwarded his response to FOX13.

In it, Lilly said the district’s data shows the hybrid model isn’t working for all students.

“From strictly an academic standpoint, we have seen a tremendous number of students struggling and even failing, which not only affects them now but can have lasting detrimental effects later,” Lilly wrote.

“It didn’t seem like he really addressed anything else, like the rest of our concerns about the rest of the problems we could have going back to school because obviously, you know grades are a big thing but it’s not the only factor they had to look at in making this decision,” Miskowiec said.

Since the students sent the letter, Collierville High School was virtual again last week. The district said it was due to vacancies that included scheduled requests, seasonal illnesses, active COVID-19 cases and active quarantine numbers.

A Collierville Schools spokesperson sent FOX13a statement, saying in part “depending on the current situation(s) and volume, we will tailor our school operations to meet the needs of both staff and student.”

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