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Parents frustrated about delay to return to in-person classes

Monday was supposed to be the day teachers in the Scranton School District returned back to school under a hybrid learning plan. However, that was delayed.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Students will not return to the classroom in Scranton. The school board voted Monday night to make changes to virtual learning.

Parents protested on Monday evening outside the Scranton School District administration building. They were upset the start of in-person learning has been pushed back. This comes after more than 70 teachers said they have health concerns about coming back.

Jackie Davis is a lunch monitor in the district. She's been on unemployment for the past year while the school has been closed.

"They called me with a start back date and I was so excited and so was my boss then they decided again we weren't going back. I mean it kind of puts a kink in everything," Davis said.

The school district also has issues with ventilation work. Many school buildings in the city are old. Engineers explained those problems in a Zoom school board meeting.

"The biggest problem you have is your aging systems," Engineer Arif Fazil said.

Parents at the protest were angry ventilation work wasn't done sooner.

"If there are truly issues, it should have totally been fixed by now. Everything should have been fixed by now, while the school buildings were unoccupied," Jill Sweeney said.

The district said these things take time.

"These are lengthy processes I think in any time and certainly given the circumstances may have been stretched even further," Scranton School Board President Katie Gilmartin said.

In the board meeting, members unanimously approved a plan to start "synchronous learning." That means students will have live virtual classes as opposed to pre-recorded lessons. 

That will begin March 15 for students in grades 6 through 12 and March 22 for grades 3 through 5. Pre-K through second grade will not be fully synchronous. They would be the first group to return to in-person when possible.

The board does not yet have an exact date when students will be able to return for in-person classes, even for just a few days.

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