The district has advocated for beginning the first nine weeks of the school year online.By Pam Surano

MT. LEBANON, Pa. (KDKA) — A group of parents and students protested Mt. Lebanon School District’s back-to-school plan for the fall.

The district has advocated for starting the first nine weeks of the school year online. District leaders are citing health concerns and a potential lack of teachers due to coronavirus fears.

“It’s not safe yet,” said Sally Merar, a parent in Mt. Lebanon. “I don’t think we have enough testing in place and testing for asymptomatic students.”

Mt. Lebanon School District has already said Aug. 31 is the new start date for students.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

On Wednesday at the Mt. Lebanon Safety Center, the protesters gathered to send a message to the school district. Parents and students were there to demand the reopening of schools.

They want to return to traditional in-person learning or a hybrid model, but what they are mostly asking for is a choice.

The group then marched down Washington Road with signs saying “I miss my friends” and “I learn better in school.”

“Please don’t take the choice away from my child, who has IEP that skews towards social,” said Hillary Lohr, a Mt. Lebanon parent of an eighth-grader.

Many parents are advocating for substitutes to come in if some of the district’s teachers are concerned about returning.

“We have individual families that can pay for private tutors, for tutors to come into their home and school their kids. And you have individuals that cannot afford that,” said Kimberly Mauro, a Mt. Lebanon parent.

Mauro has three children, ages 3-7, in Mt. Lebanon. She teaches in another district that will use a hybrid model in the fall.

“We now have a childcare crisis. If my son cannot go back to school and everything is remote, then I’m paying a nanny,” Mauro said.

The school board will make its decision on Thursday.