KPS board votes to stay all virtual for rest of school year

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The decision to stay virtual for the rest of the school year was the big topic at a Kalamazoo Public Schools board meeting.

The district’s superintendent, Rita Raichoudhuri, made the decision a couple of weeks ago. The district’s third trimester, which begins on March 15, would remain virtual.

She gave the KPS school board a chance to vote on the topic during Thursday night’s meeting. Only one of the board’s seven members voted for students to return to in-person classes.

“I understand that the February 11 decision to stay virtual was disappointing to many families,” Raichoudhuri said. “As an educator, I know in-person learning is optimal.”

The superintendent revisited the reasons why she chose to extend virtual classes through the rest of the school year.

She pointed out several reasons including the amount of time kids would have of in-person instruction once the third trimester begins, which would be 22 days. She then noted that a potential outbreak could further impact instruction.

One topic that became an issue in her decision was that only 33% of the district’s parents voted on whether to stay virtual or have a hybrid model of instruction.

“I can also guarantee that it is not true that the entire 67% of parents did know about it or did not receive the survey,” said the superintendent. “Furthest from the truth.”

“I know this because I spoke with upset parents on February 11 and asked them if they had taken the survey, many had not,” Raichoudhuri added.

The decision to stay virtual is leaving some students feeling disheartened.

An online petition created by a Kalamazoo Central High School student was launched in favor of returning to in-person instruction. More than 500 people have signed it so far.

“Students have been underrepresented and forgotten especially in aspects of performance and mental health,” said Ben, a Kalamazoo Central student who didn’t want to be fully identified.