Wake parents call for more equitable COVID rules, funding at schools

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the virtual meeting got underway on Zoom, Monday evening, more and more faces popped in; Wake County moms and dads who were just some of the now 1,500 members of a Facebook group devoted to COVID safety and support within Wake schools.

"The problem here that we feel as a collective group is the inequity. It's not fair," said group organizer Kira Kroboth. "I should not feel that my child is more safe at his school than your child is at their school."

The group is calling for across the board COVID-19 rules and protocols at Wake schools and schools statewide - including face coverings checked daily for quality; more lunch outdoors and smaller groups for indoor lunches.

"The majority of COVID clusters that happened in schools were traced back to times when mask compliance was low," said WCPSS parent Gabriell Barnes.

Parent groups across the Triangle are fundraising online to buy pricey air filtration systems for schools. $10,000 was raised on a GoFundMe for Lakewood Elementary in Durham and over $2,000 for filters at Penny Road Elementary in Cary.

"We had unhealthy air quality prior to COVID because of under-funding and overcrowding," said parent Erin de Frietas.

The parents want districts to use unspent money from the CARES Act to pay for it all. But is it worth it?

A Wake schools spokesperson told ABC11 that all district schools use CDC-recommended MERV-13 filters in their HVAC units; Air purifiers are in classrooms with students with special needs who are unable to wear a face covering.

The district said, "There are no scientific data to support that the use of HEPA filters and ventilation work to prevent spread of COVID-19 when everyone is masking.

But the parents group is pointing to its own parent survey that suggests the large majority don't feel their kids are safe.

"How confident are you the decisions by the board of education and the district are providing a safe environment? Umm, not great," Kroboth said.

There were a few state representatives and political activists on the virtual meeting. They listened while parents did the talking.

Tuesday, Wake school board members will weigh in on the district's COVID response into the new school year. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

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