A Virginia dad, frustrated with the lack of options to send his children to school during the coronavirus pandemic, stood before a county school board delivering a passionate speech.
“You’re a bunch of cowards hiding behind our children as an excuse to keep our schools closed,” Brandon Michon said at a Loudoun County School Board meeting on Tuesday. “Figure it out or get off the podium.”
A video capturing the heated discussion has circulated on social media and has been viewed more than 486,000 times on Twitter. In the video, Michon points and shouts at school board members.
“You should all be fired from your day jobs because if your employers knew you were more inefficient than the DMV you would be replaced in a heartbeat,” he told the school board.
“There are people like me and a line of other people out there who will gladly take your seat and figure it out!”
In an interview with CNN, Michon said he wasn’t trying to call attention to himself.
“This is about finding ways to get our children back to school and giving the optionality to families to get them back to school learning, being mentally healthy, and being kids,” he said.
A father to a 5-year-old in kindergarten and an 8-year-old in the third grade, Michon said he’s outraged because the board has not listened to him and other parents who want options to get students back in the classroom.
“I tried talking in a different tone and this one obviously caught attention,” Michon told CNN.
Michon said his kids have been going to school online for a majority of the school year.
The superintendent sent a letter to the school community
The school system’s interim superintendent, Scott Ziegler, sent a letter to the school community on Thursday in which he discussed the school board meeting, but he did not mention Michon by name.
He said “increased media attention … has led to some inflammatory rhetoric being shared on social media and in email and phone communications with staff. As a parent and a school administrator, I know this subject can provoke many emotions, including frustration and anger.”
Ziegler says the community has a common goal to safely send students back to school as soon as it is possible.
“We may disagree on the methods and timetable to return students to in-person learning, but I would like us to agree that we all have our students’ best interests at heart,” he said.
Board may reconsider return to in-person learning
About 18,000 Loudoun County students returned to the classroom in early December, CNN affiliate WJLA reported, but a week later the school board announced a return to 100% distance learning. Two key metrics – cases per 100,000 people and testing positivity – exceeded established thresholds.
In a statement to CNN, Loudoun County Public Schools said the board is scheduled Tuesday to vote on a plan to return to in-person learning by February 16. This return would include grades K-5 and some older students in special categories.
As of January 28, Loudoun County Public Schools has reported 33 active positive cases of the coronavirus among staff and students and four new student cases in the last 24 hours.
There has been a total of 610 positive cases in Loudoun County Public Schools since September 8, according to the school’s Covid case data site.
CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.