State Issues Guidelines for Reopening Schools; School Leaders, Teachers, & Parents React

State Issues Guidelines for Reopening Schools; School Leaders, Teachers, & Parents React

Nico Payne

Up until today, the decision on schools reopening for in-person instruction has been left up to local districts to decide. Governor Newsom has announced that schools located in counties on the state’s monitoring list must stay closed. The state is looking critically at the counties on the so-called coronavirus watch list.

Now telling them their students can’t go back to the classroom next month, but instead, start the school year online.

“I live in Imperial County, but Seth goes to school in Riverside County so it’s a half an hour, 45 minute trip by bus, and how do you make that safe,” questioned Imari Kariotis, Parent of a CVUSD student.

For concerned parents, finally some answers from the state about what the new school year will look like. The governor lays out rules for when in-classroom teaching can begin.

“We all prefer in classroom instructions for all the obvious reasons, social and emotional foundation, but only, only, if it can be done safely,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

All School Districts in the Coachella Valley had already decided to start with distance learning, but today the governor says schools can reopen for in-class learning once they’re off the state’s monitoring list for 14 days.

“My first thought was thank you, we have now some clarity and some confirmation on really what we had in place right now,” said Laura Fisher, Assistant Superintendent of Desert Sands Unified School District.

Local school leaders say they’re happy to know the new guidance represents decisions they’ve already made.

“It helps us when we know what the parameters will be so we can make those plans even better,” said Dr. Maria Gandera, Superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified School District.

“I’m glad that the governor has given us along with the California Department of Public Health, some very specific guidelines about what metric we are going to use in order to determine opening and down the road perhaps some closings of schools and districts if needed,” said Dr. Sandra Lyon, Superintendent with Palm Springs Unified School District.

The governor also addressed on face coverings, saying students in 3rd grade and above will be required to wear masks, but for students in 2nd grade and below it will only be a recommendation. 

“I believe that anyone above the age of three should have a mask on. I don’t understand this strongly recommended statement that everyone seems to use, either you want us to wear masks or you don’t,” added Kariotis

For teachers, the focus will be on distance learning.

“The biggest struggle, knowing that were going to have to start off this year in virtual mode is the heartbreak of not being able to see these students in person,” said Trina Gonzales-Alesi, President of Desert Sands Teachers Association.

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