Andrea Stammreich would like to get a job.
After a recent move to the area, she was interested in finding full-time work and had recruiters reaching out to her. She was looking forward to having a second income coming in, she said.
“Now, that is something that I cannot do until after I have my children in full-time instruction,” she said.
At a July 16 Board of Trustees special meeting, Frisco ISD Superintendent Mike Waldrip announced that the district would only be offering virtual instruction for the first three weeks of school.
Waldrip discussed reasoning behind the three-week shift to all online learning, which he said included the spread of COVID-19 and a compressed timeline for getting students set up for their “proper educational setting.” He also cited the new virtual environment FISD will be offering in the fall as part of the reasoning for the change.
“We’ve considerably beefed up the online experience,” he said. “It’s drastically different from what parents saw in the spring. It’s much more in-depth and comprehensive, and the in-person environment that our teachers will probably eventually find themselves in is going to be different still,” he said.
After the announcement Stammreich received an email with the announcement. She said she was disappointed when the district announced its change in plans.
“There were specific reasons why we chose in-person instruction versus virtual instruction,” she said, “and so even three weeks, for some people, it is very difficult.”
In response, Stammreich spearheaded an effort that originally began as an idea to have a group of friends gather to show that they were dedicated to getting in-person instruction for their kids.
The effort became a rally scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the FISD administration building, right before the district’s Thursday board meeting. Once a Facebook group for FISD parents regarding in-person instruction grew from under 200 to over 1,000 members, Stammreich said they realized the need to have a gathering outside the meeting.
“We want to make sure as a group we share our positive support for our district and teachers and avoid overwhelming the meeting,” Stammreich said.
Seana Taylor, who also has children in Frisco ISD, helped get the word out about the rally. While she won’t be able to attend, she said she wants transparency and for the district to uphold its end of an agreement.
“We feel like we did everything that the administration asked us to do, as far as make a selection that was best for our family,” she said, “and we did, and then we were given a deadline, and then three days later, they changed their minds.”
Stammreich said she felt the district’s announcement had not come with transparency.
“It was very out of left field,” she said.
She was upset, and she wasn’t alone.
“And so we thought, well, maybe just a show so that the teachers and the board will understand that we really chose in-person because we appreciate the caliber of instruction that we get in person, and we wanted to show that there are a large number of us who are comfortable with putting our children in in-person instruction despite the dangers of COVID.”
Stammreich said her hope is that those who were upset by the announcement can find comfort in other families who also favored in-person instruction. She also hopes to show the board and staff that they are looking forward to returning to school.
When it comes to health and safety concerns, Stammreich said that the district had previously planned for in-person instruction, taking into account additional safety measures recommended by the Texas Education Agency.
”If we were able to maybe just push back three weeks and start in three weeks in person, that might be an easier pill to swallow for a lot of families,” she said.
At the bottom of a flyer for the event, there is a note that masks and social distancing are encouraged.
“I just wanted us to all be safe,” Stammreich said. “I know that we're going to be outdoors, but we're going to be probably standing a little close to one another, and I just want to make sure that we're all being safe.”