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Concerned parents ask Hibbing School Board to bring students back to class

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HIBBING, MN-- Worried about their students falling behind, a group of Hibbing parents is voicing concerns to the Hibbing School Board Wednesday night.

"Concerns regarding our kids' education, we were concerned about their mental health," said parent Natalie Benchina. "We were hearing from a lot of families that were going through the same struggles we were as being working parents outside of the home."

Benchina and her husband Joe are among a group of parents asking the school board to give elementary school students the option to head back to the classroom on Monday.

Benchina is concerned her fifth-grader Jonas could be falling behind.

"Grades, frustrations with the software not working, there's just a disconnect," she said. "Going from school eight [a.m.] to two [p.m.] every day to online one to two hours a day, it hasn't been enough."

The Hibbing School District went into a fully remote model on November 16th, and might not be going back in the classroom until the end of January.

Not all parents are concerned about their kids.

Paul Ciochetto's seventh-grade daughter and younger sons have been distance learning since the beginning of the year.

"It just made sense for us, for our seventh-grade daughter to do something that was consistent," said Ciochetto.

He said the school is offering online resources, like online homework help outside of regularly scheduled class time.

They've even allocated time for individual meetings between teacher and students, and designated time for students with special needs.

Ciochetta has even seen his daughter's grades improve from a B average to an A.

"It's not going to be perfect, this isn't a long-term solution," he said. "We know that, but right now it's keeping as many people safe as possible, and it's giving the kids an education."

He said the resources have been helpful and he encourages parents and students to take advantage.

He said, "I appreciate everyone's concern, especially the kids that are struggling. I know there are mental health issues and things like that. Reach out, don't wait."

For more information on accessing those resources, click here.

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Emma Quinn

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