Mason parents share gratitude, grievances with school district’s handling of COVID-19

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Photo by Griffin Wiles

Mason parents have a range of reactions to the district’s handling of learning through the coronavirus pandemic. 

Angela England, a mom with twins — one in fifth grade, one in sixth grade — said she’s upset the district has not provided classroom resources for her son with autism. 

“Kids in special education, they’re definitely being deprived out here,” England said. “There’s no question about it.” 

England said her son had been doing classes online until a few weeks ago, when he was brought back for in-person instruction. She said the emotionally and behaviorally impaired program was understaffed. She expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of qualified staff and support.

Despite numerous attempts to reach the school board and superintendent, England said her son has not received additional help. 

She said she feels that special education is not a priority for the district, especially seeing the “great experience” her other child is having in middle school. 

“As a parent, I’m seeing both,” England said. “Maybe that’s why it’s so frustrating for me, is because I’m seeing the big difference in how it’s all being handled.”

Not all district residents share the same frustration with the school district. 

Katy Gilchrist, mom of a high school freshman and senior, said she feels local districts are taking heat for what she said could be deemed mismanagement of the pandemic at the national level.

“It’s left the door open for communities to place blame on local districts to solve problems that go beyond the scope of educating kids,” Gilchrist said.

She said she has faith in the Mason board of education and feels as though it honors the voice of the community.

“Our district here in Mason and our school board, I feel, has done a nice job honoring the voices of all stakeholders, and our teachers have really done a nice job holding our students harmless in the middle of a pandemic,” Gilchrist said. 

High school teacher and mom-of-two Deb Schafer echoed Gilchrist’s sentiment. She said she is, for the most part, happy with how things were handled by the school district.

“This is such an unusual circumstance we are all living in, and I have no doubt that our school board and our administration — who are the decision makers — are looking out for everyone’s best interest,” Schafer said. “That has never been a doubt in my mind.” 

Schafer said the district is continuing to reach out and offer opportunities. 

“As long as the school district is continuing to explore options to meet the needs of all the learners, whether that’s different timing or different days of the week, I think we’re not stagnant,” Schafer said. “They’re continually trying to reach solutions.”

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