Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

California Governor Gavin Newsom wants kids back in school, but teachers’ unions across the state are calling for the continuation of remote learning. In a letter to the governor, the California Teachers Association (CTA) asked Newsom to keep schools remote in purple tier regions and to increase safety regulations. 

“Nonetheless, we need a clear and coordinated state, county, and local plan that puts the health and safety of our communities first and does not take shortcuts toward the path of opening schools in person,” the letter reads

“To do otherwise will continue the ‘yo-yo’ effect we warned of last summer and this fall—opening schools, only to then close them because we failed to have the necessary layered protections and asymptomatic testing in place.”

PARENTS PUSH BACK

Kristen Roeder is a parent of three children who attend public schools in El Dorado County. She was part of a group that organized a demonstration in September advocating for the reopening of schools and hybrid learning environments.

“I absolutely am disgusted by the CTA and that they are pushing to keep our kids out of school,” Roeder told Scriberr News. 

“They should be the ones that are fighting for the kids to be in school.”

Roeder says that three days a week her kids are home and “not even distance learning”. She claims her children are struggling to learn during those days due to a lack of structure.

“My junior son, one of his assignments one day was, ‘What is your favorite activity or costume for Halloween?’ That was his assignment for his science class,” Roeder said.

As a mother, Roeder said she is doing all she can to support her children even when online learning environments are not conducive to success for her family. 

“They don’t learn online. It’s not learning no matter how good the teacher is. They are not learning the concepts. Honestly we’ve had tears at our house. We’ve had one of my students literally in tears because he felt he was going to fail his test.”

Her students follow the state and district-mandated safety measures in regard to being on school grounds or playing sports. Roeder said they would comply with any safety restrictions if it meant her children could be back in the classroom. 

ANOTHER SIDE TO THE STORY

Roeder is active in a Facebook group called Rescue Union School District Parents and Community. While she often shares her views on reopening schools, some parents disagree. 

Another mother with a child in the same district, who requested anonymity due to her viewpoint, sides with CTA’s letter to the governor. 

“The fact remains that we’ve schooled in ambiguity since March 2020 and there is light at the end of the tunnel. We need to stay focused on the positive aspects and lead with empathy for our educators,” she told Scriberr News. 

Instead of pushing for online or in-person instruction, her family chose a homeschooling option through Frontier Charter School.

“Do we love it? No. We would rather have our children in school with their friends.”

“Have they done right by us? Yes, absolutely. We’re figuring it out and the program has been successful for our family,” she said.

CALLING FOR VACCINATIONS 

The letter sent by CTA also says teachers should be vaccinated before schools reopen. Teachers and educators are part of California’s ‘Phase 1b’ group, meaning they are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the start of this month. 

Newsom met with the Association of California Administrators via video conference and discussed vaccinations. 

“If everybody has to be vaccinated, we might as well just tell people the truth: There will be no in-person instruction in the state of California,” Newsom said during the meeting.

Scriberr News reached out to CTA but they declined to comment further on whether they would demand all staff members be vaccinated.

STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH

Many students are feeling depressed and hopeless while learning remotely and some professionals say that will only be remedied once kids are back in the classroom.

A study by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California says that almost half of Southern California students need mental health support. They feel many of the circumstantial effects of quarantine can be remedied at school with one on one teacher assistance and access to counseling. 

A new study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also says schools can reopen with safety guidelines. 

“Discontinuation of in-person schooling can result in many hardships and disproportionately affects families of lower socioeconomic status,” the study found.

“Current evidence suggests that transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) schools might not significantly contribute to COVID-19 spread nationwide.”

Written ByAshley Grams

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