Students start petition for hybrid model in Aiken County schools

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 12:40 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 4:28 AM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Despite the number holding steady students and parents are still concerned. Some have started a petition asking the school board to keep high schools on the hybrid model.

There are nine cases throughout Aiken County schools, with the district reporting no changes in total cases; only one new case among students.

But that’s not enough for a couple of students, who say, in-person learning is too much of a risk.

A big decision by the Aiken County Board of Education had some parents and teachers speaking out, and now so are the students

“We knew that just talking to other students about him wasn’t really going to do anything,” Kathleen Kihnley said.

Kihnley and Nicole Gonzalez Echeverri are juniors at Aiken High School, next week, they’ll be back in school four days a week.

“When we heard about the board of education decision to go back to the four-day schedule, we were like, whoa, wait a minute. How are we going to keep social distancing in order? You know, we were concerned about our safety, our friends, safety, our teachers' safety,” Kihnley said.

The students started a petition asking the board to reconsider.

“We know that if we continue with the hybrid schedule, then we can continue to control the virus in school,” Echeverri said

Aiken’s move to bring middle and high school students back in the classroom four-days a week comes just as South Carolina is reporting a slight rise in COVID-19 school cases, totaling 1,143 student cases for Tuesday.

Kihnley and Echeverri say that risk is scary

“My dad has diabetes, and if I get COVID-19, then he could get it and that could be his life, and my mother’s too,” Kihnley said. “Yeah, we’re afraid we’re concerned for ourselves and for everyone we know, and even people we don’t know.”

They say the signatures show that they’re not alone.

“We know we’re not the only ones that want to keep the hybrid schedule. That gives us reason to fight,” Kihnley said.

They say they feel like their lives are in the hands of the board.

“We did the petition so our voices can get out. They still need to hear our opinions and maybe change their decision,” Kihnley said.

The students plan to get a few more signatures before they formally send their petition to the school board sometime this week.

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