Jessica Miller

Jessica Miller tracks the progress of her online petition.

SHREVEPORT, La. -- It's a call for Caddo Parish Schools to go "all in" on in-person learning. An online petition is gathering signatures.

Jessica Miller's petition on Change.org has gathered almost 700 signatures since going live on Friday. It asks Caddo Schools to open up all classrooms to in person learning all five days a week. But it does not ask to eliminate the all virtual learning option. 

While other neighboring districts are bringing more students back into classrooms under Louisiana's Phase 3 of reopening from the coronavirus, CPSB is sticking to the plan it opened the fall semester with. It's a combination of in person and virtual learning.

Miller is the mother of two middle schoolers. She's also executive director at the Gingerbread House, which counsels abused and neglected children.

And in both of those roles, Miller says she's seen the need for kids to get away from their screens, and to get into classrooms.

"If you see something, say something. It's one of the things we say here at the Gingerbread House," Miller says. "If you suspect that a child's getting hurt, say something. I am seeing children being hurt by this model. And I want us to do better by our children. Not just my own children. But all of our children in our community."

Miller says children are stressed out over too much screen time that comes with virtual learning. She says they're struggling with the online instructional program. And she says they're missing proper classroom instruction from teachers, and missing out on relationships with their peers.

"This petition has had support from parents all over Caddo Parish. And so I wanted to show that support. And for the school board to understand, please look where we're coming from," Miller says.

Parents and grandparents we talked to, as they were picking up kids at A. C. Steere Elementary, agree with Miller's petition.

"It depends on the child. They may need to honestly go to school rather than being at home. Especially if they're by themselves. And no supervision. They're not studying," Glenda McFarland said.

"There's more issues of kids not socially interacting with other kids and that part of the dynamics of the school system that they don't get to have when they're virtually learning," said Randy Stockman.

While elementary students have all in-person learning in Caddo, middle and high schoolers are on hybrid schedules. That means they go to school two days of the week for in person learning, and the other three days are virtual learning. The district has said it'll re-evaluateĀ at the end of September.

Regarding the petition, CPSB spokeswoman Charnae McDonald said in a written reply, "The district has been very clear in that instructional models would not be tied to a phase set by state or federal leaders. Instead, the instructional model is determined at the local level based on the best information available to school system leaders."

Data from the Louisiana health department shows that cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have all been trending down since mid-July. However, Region 7 Director Dr. Martha Whyte says there's still a lot of COVID-19 illness in Caddo Parish.

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