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Scarborough parents rally to demand Gov. Mills mandate students return to school full-time

A small group gathered for a rally Wednesday in protest of the ongoing restrictions on schools during the pandemic.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Even with little time left in the school year, a group of parents in Scarborough is demanding a full return to in-person learning five days a week.

A small group gathered in Memorial Park Wednesday afternoon to voice their concerns about the ongoing stress remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic is having on them and their kids. 

"I just was never meant to educate my kids in this way and you know, some children need to be inside a physical classroom in order for their brain to click on and they need to have that access," Amber Hoxha, who organized the event, said. 

RELATED: Maine to launch optional 'pooled' COVID-19 testing program for schools

The group is calling on Governor Janet Mills to mandate the return to the classroom statewide.

Right now the decision for remote, hybrid, or in-person learning is up to individual communities. In Scarborough, they are still using a hybrid model.

Advocates pointed to the fact Maine has led the country in vaccination efforts and its overall control of the virus spread. 

The group said Governor Mills needs to address the issue because there is a "dire need" for students to learn in-person again.

"It's really really challenging for us and we want Governor Mills to listen to us. Help us," Winnie Lee said.

Last week the Maine Dept. of Education updated its color-coding and downgraded Oxford, Kennebec, Somerset, and Androscoggin counties to yellow, meaning an elevated risk for COVID-19. All other counties are still green.

A spokesperson for Mills released a statement in response to activists demands noting that most Maine schools have been open in some capacity all year.

"The Mills Administration recognizes the importance of in-person instruction for a child’s social, emotional, educational growth, and shares the goal of getting those students who are not already in the classroom back for full-time learning as soon as possible," Lindsay Crete said in a statement. 

Crete said the governor will continue with its existing approach to reopening and re-examine requirements if the CDC updates its guidance.