MUHLENBERG TWP., Pa. - A handful of concerned parents in the Muhlenberg School District braved the cold and stood outside the administration building on Friday to voice their opinions about virtual learning and their desire to get their children back in the classroom.

"I've heard parents online," said Daniel News, a concerned parent. "They're like, 'Hey, my kids online. He's doing great. What's your problem?' I said, 'Well, my kid's not doing great online.'"

One mother who organized the gathering said she's afraid of kids, especially younger students, missing out on formative educational experiences due to the pandemic and its ongoing impact on schooling.

"My fear is they're gonna lose those primary moments in life that they need to use for their future," parent Kristy Rothenberger said. "Elementary to sixth grade is those primary ages, and they've lost so much this year."

The district's superintendent, Joseph Macharola, said he wants nothing more than to get the students back into some form of a normal in-person educational routine, but he added that his administration is considering the health and safety of everyone involved.

"I care very much about our principals, our teachers, our cafeteria workers our secretaries, our maintenance personnel," Macharola said.

Among the staff, the district has had to deal with a particularly high number of COVID-19 cases.

"We had 83 of our staff affected by COVID-19, symptomatic, asymptomatic, directly identified as having COVID 19 at the end of the first marking period," Macharola said.

As virtual learning continues, the school district said it's monitoring the latest case numbers and CDC guidelines.

"There is no question in my mind that we can be able to get our children back to school," Macharola said, "but not at this moment."

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