Parents protest for Scranton School District to bring kids back to school

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Parents are coming together tonight to protest the Scranton School District. They want their children back in classrooms immediately.

Many parents came and went as they got off of work. They told Eyewitness News they are tired of the district making plans to go back to school and then reversing its decision days before it happens.

Today, some 900 teachers and paraprofessionals were supposed to return to the classroom, two weeks before students start to make their return on March 15th.  

Just last week, more than 50 teachers notified the district they will not return because of health concerns. Some cited preexisting conditions.  

The district does not have adequate staffing with those teachers out of the teaching routine.

The teachers union is worried about the safety of teachers, staff and students when it comes to COVID and air quality.  

If you remember last year, the district had lead and asbestos issues. The district spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix problems at hand which were known by the previous administration dating back to 2016.

Nothing was done until Superintendent Melissa McTiernan came on board and was notified by the state office of the attorney general.  

Parents said it’s time for their children to get back in the classroom and they want answers.

“With the push back from 50 teachers, it’s just not giving the district the numbers of teachers that it needs to provide to educate our children. I really think there are really safe ways to return to school. I believe a lot of people believe in fear and not in science,” said Jill Sweeney, a parent of a Scranton school student.

“The unique qualities that we face are an asset and some of them make it more difficult. So when we’re looking mitigation efforts we’re looking at mitigation efforts across 18 buildings. When we’re coming up against a staffing concern we’re looking at a staffing concern in 18 buildings. So everything is just multiplied for us,” said Scranton School Board President Katie Gilmartin.

The Scranton School District has a board meeting tonight at 7 p.m. It is expected to last well into the night as more than three dozen are expected to speak during public comment. 

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