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West De Pere High School student speaks out about in-person learning decision

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 5:16 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - Students and staff in the West De Pere School District return to the classroom on Monday for in-person instruction.

The district transitioned to a virtual learning format at the beginning of the month due to the spread of COVID-19.

This is not how Olivia Mazzariello imagined starting her senior year of high school.

“I was in-person for the first three weeks of school and then switched to online, because I didn’t feel safe,” said Mazzariello.

The West De Pere High School student is speaking out against a decision made on Saturday night at a special school board meeting to resume in-person classes in the district.

“I would love to be in school. I would love to go to dances and football games, but we can’t and that’s just how it is," said Mazzariello. “It’s how it has to be until things can get back to normal.”

The school board voted to move forward with plans to reopen despite guidance advising against that decision from local health officials. A statement to Action 2 News from the De Pere Health Department on Monday reads, “The De Pere Health Department will continue to help all of our educational partners in providing guidance on best mitigation strategies and with contact tracing. We will continue to work in accordance with the guidance given to us by CDC and DHS and with our local health systems on a daily basis to provide our community with current information and recommendations regarding the pandemic.”

“Two seniors at my school, they set up a group on Snapchat and invited a bunch of students, asked students if they wanted to be added, and it’s called the West De Pere COVID Action Group,” said Mazzariello.

The group created a survey sent out to students, staff, and parents in the West De Pere School District on the heels of the school board decision asking them if they felt safe returning to the classroom. The survey ended at noon on Monday, and with more than 400 participants, early results show a majority of students and staff feel unsafe while a majority of parents answered both they and their children feel safe going back to school.

“The parents, obviously, a lot of them want us to go back, but they’re not in school with us, and I think they made a really poor decision,” said Mazzariello.

Action 2 News reached out to officials in the West De Pere School District for comment and did not receive a response.

Students hope to address school board members at a scheduled meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday in the West De Pere High School auditorium.

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