Students Hold Protest to Get More Face Time with Teachers

Most high school student protests involve getting out of class one way or another. But several dozen Proctor students and parents recently held a protest outside two schools to point out how much all K-12 students need to get back into their classrooms in order to avoid falling further behind.

The unusual protest organized by Proctor High School senior Sibley Dunbar made the pages of the Duluth News Tribune.

“I have family friends who have kindergartners in the district and they’re calling their parents at work because they don’t know how to write their E’s or because they can’t figure out how to read or they don’t know what 2 plus 2 is yet,” Sibley said.

She said it’s also hard for parents, who after working a long day come home and have to help teach their children basic things. It can get frustrating.

Their point is that online access to teachers doesn’t cut it compared to the learning that takes place face-to-face in the classroom. No matter how hard students, teachers and administrators try to make it work.

Sibley said she believes this has not only been hard on her, but all students. Proctor secondary students have not had an in-person class since March.

“At the beginning of the year, our school district was eligible to begin in a hybrid model like other schools in the area, but out of an abundance of caution they chose to have the upper grades in distance learning. We appreciate their concern for our safety deeply, but now we’re having different problems,” Sibley said. “Kids are falling behind, parents and families are stressed, mental health is really taking a toll, students are having internet issues, our quality of education is suffering and we need to find a better way.”

When’s the last time you heard students request more time in class with their teachers?

“I’m just not learning as well online,” Carlie Blevins said. “It’s harder to focus and you don’t get the connection with other classmates and teachers we should get.”

The Blevins and Sibley both understand current COVID-19 case numbers don’t allow for secondary students in the Duluth area to be in hybrid or in person, so if the district can’t make that happen, they would at least like more virtual time with their teachers.

WDIO-TV reports that school administrators were so impressed by the students’ plea for more face time with teachers and to ultimately get back in the classroom they plan to rethink the current distance learning model.

“Within the the distance learning model we’re looking at the change to the bell schedule so that they do have more time with their teachers and then obviously if we can get kids back to hybrid it will be more of a full day of learning instead of just that morning time,” said [Proctor High School principal Tim] Rohweder.