Carlsbad Unified students, who for the most part are grateful to be back for full-time in-person instruction, protested outside Carlsbad High School Wednesday about the loss of a weekly flex day.
The students are unhappy about the school board’s decision to make Wednesday an in-person school day.
While students were doing distance learning during the pandemic, Wednesday was a day for independent study, catching up on schoolwork and taking care of their mental health.
“You don’t waste a day,” Jason Kanetakia, who organized the protest, told NBC 7. "We always have homework assignments for the Wednesdays.
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High school freshman Adina Dixon agreed: “Taking away the day that is helping a lot of kids stay afloat has just been really discouraging.”
Students who stay home to continue with distance learning also no longer have Wednesdays as a flex day. Now, both groups have a full day of instruction in a shortened amount of time, with fewer breaks and a grab-and-go lunch because, for safety reasons, there is no gathering on campus to eat with friends.
“It's not a normal year -- we can't treat it like normal,” Kanetakia said. “We are not going to be here from 7 to 2:30, five days a week. We’re still in a pandemic.”
One man walking in the neighborhood said, “I think it's time to get back to normal.”
The man told NBC 7 that students should be grateful to be back full time.
“It was fine during the time they were home, but I think if they're back, they should be back five days a week,” the man said.
Neighbor Nancy Hackert agreed, telling students to give it time.
“Let it go," Hackert said. "We’re talking about three days. Put that energy back to being in school full time, please, students, and everything is going to work out.”
But students had supporters, too.
“I’m here to support them and to hear them because they feel unheard,” parent Paige Dominguez said.
Fewer than 100 students were at Wednesday's protest. They said that some who are still doing distance learning at home protested by not logging on Wednesday. The students, who said they have a petition with more than 3,000 signatures, hope the board will reconsider.
“Please, please listen to what we’re saying,” Dixon said. “We don’t want to cause any harm or damage. We’re not trying to be rude in any way, and we fully respect … [your] … authority, but please, please listen. These Wednesdays are a huge aspect of protecting our mental health.”
The board of the Carlsbad Unified School District voted 3-2 two to change wellness Wednesday. The San Dieguito Union High School District has opted to keep the flex day for its students, who will return four days a week for in-person instruction plus the flex day.