Rally pleads for an end to distance learning


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Attendees hold signs in support of reopening the schools, with signs stating, “Distant Learning Sucks,” among other messages.

“We want our kids to go back to school — as soon as possible,” said Gail Markarian on Saturday, speaking from the front steps of the Courthouse Museum to a rally of some 30 parents, teachers and students.

Most of those in attendance waved green and yellow signs pleading for MUSD schools to reopen.

Passing vehicles honked in support.

The rally was organized to make a plea to reopen the local schools, which have been closed since being shut down by Gov. Gavin Newsom since the start of the school year.

“I am not a teacher, said Markarian, “but I am married to one — he’s a chemistry teacher at Madera High. And we want our kids to go back to school.”

Elizabeth Yost, a school nurse practitioner in the Madera system, said Madera kids were missing out on a lot because of distance learning, in which teachers and their students have little face-to-face contact, because of concerns about possible contagion with the coronavirus. Yost said, however, such student-to-student contagion, in fact, didn’t seem to be a problem.

“We’re rallying to open MUSD at all grade levels in the public schools,” Yost said. She said the problems the kids have with trying to learn from a distance, such as the struggles the students have trying to learn over television, are far more of a hinderance to learning than any threat from the virus itself, as long as the students wash their hands, wear masks and practice social distancing.

Those who spoke to the rally also gave examples of other local school districts who had changed back to face-to-face schooling.

Yost said students have gone hungry because they had no food in their houses due to lack of contact with school staff.

Many students and their families, especially those who live at the poverty level, rely on school-prepared meals, Yost said.

“Give us a choice,” Markarian said.

“MUSD Trustees, it’s time to give us a waiver,” Yost said.

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