Local districts and unions discuss plans and concerns about in-person education

Local districts and unions discuss plans and concerns about in-person education

Olivia Sandusky

Palm Springs and Desert Sands Unified Schools districts will start the new year online, as staff formulates a plan for eventual in-person education at a “to be determined date”.

So far, that plan includes temperature checks, face coverings and social distancing.

“We will be providing two cloth and two disposable face coverings at a minimum for students. We’re also providing face shields for all teachers and staff like nurses and bus drivers,” said Laura Fisher, assistant superintendent for Desert Sands Unified.

With COVID-19 related criteria changing almost weekly, the PSUSD superintendent says her district will create guidelines to handle positive tests when the date to return to campus gets closer.

“We have a nurse manager who works very closely with the department of Public Health, and so we will be working with them to make sure that the protocol and processes we follow are in line with what the Riverside County department of public health expects,” said PSUSD superintendent Sandy Lyons.

She also says teachers who miss work due to COVID-19 are eligible for worker benefits as laid out by Gov. Newsom.

Lyons also says PSUSD has counselors and programs available for students and staff to speak to as they return to campus if they feel added stress from the situation and are in need of additional resources.

Other concerns about reopening schools also include the use of substitute teachers.

“We’re going to be needing to make sure our substitutes have a different kind of training and updates than we may have given them before. We’re going to make sure that we are limiting them from being at every school, we’re not quite sure exactly what that will look like right now, ” said Lyons.

As local districts finalize plans, President Trump and the Secretary of the Department of Education have emphasized the need for schools to reopen.

“There is nothing in the data that would suggest kids being back in school is dangerous to them,” said Betsy Devos, secretary for the Department of Education.

But the Center for Disease Control list indoor activities like classrooms as high risk.

And while the White House Task Force says the child mortality rate for COVID-19 is under one percent, a recent post by the Coachella Valley Teachers Association says that percentage would equal over three deaths in their district, adding “that’s three more than we’d be okay with.”