Parents, Students Plan Rally Monday in Support of Reopening Schools

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Hermiston residents frustrated by the shutdown caused by the COVID pandemic are organizing a “Rally For Our Students” on Monday just prior to the Hermiston School Board meeting.

Organizers are encouraging parents, teachers, students and community residents to show up in large numbers – wearing masks – at the Hermiston School District office from 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. “to put a face with those who are being affected by this ongoing shutdown,” according to a flyer being distributed to community members.

Those being most affect are the students, said Holly Starr, one of the organizers of the rally. She has two boys. One is a freshman in the Hermiston School District. The other is an adopted son from Burundi who is enrolled in a private online school due to his needs as an English language learner.

Starr said many students in the district are struggling with online school – some academically, some emotionally, but all are impacted in one way or another by sudden and massive change to their day-to-day lives.

“The kids are the ones who are suffering, and they are not the reason for the COVID numbers,” she said.

Megan Hosek, another of the organizers of Monday’s rally, said the students haven’t had a chance to be heard, but expects that to change Monday night. She said the kids she and other organizers have talked with have all expressed an eagerness to speak before the Hermiston School Board Monday night.

“We want to give our kids a voice because they haven’t had one,” said Hosek. “They are really struggling.”

She said she understands the district is in a tough spot and that it wants school to reopen.

“I think our administration wants our kids back in school, too,” she said. “They just need help.”

Neither Hosek nor Starr would hazard a guess as to the size of Monday’s turnout, but both expect the board to hear from a large number of frustrated people.

“We just want to show the board that the community has a voice and that we want to be heard,” said Starr.

Hosek said she expects the rally to show how much support there is for reopening the schools.

“Our group is made up of involved parents and students who want to help and support the district move toward reopening the schools,” she said.

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