California Teachers and Parents Prepare for Schools to Reopen
California teachers are receiving their first dose of the vaccine simultaneously as schools are making plans to reopen for in-person classes..
It has been a year since schools transitioned to distance learning, and now, schools are creating reopening plans for in-person instruction.
Sadie Navarro is a parent to two children in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and has found distanced learning difficult not only for her children but also for her.
“Right now, it is very hard for not just the kids but for the parents as well,” Navarro told Scriberr News.
“There are disadvantages of course, like not being able to pay attention—not having the actual teacher there with them, you know, giving them the help that they require.”
Navarro said she supports the reopening of schools in California because she sees her children struggle with sitting in front of a computer every day and not having proper socialization with their classmates.
“It’s very important in their childhood to socialize and basically make friends,” Navarro said. “They’re under a grading system where they just do assignments and turn them in.”
SDUSD released a target date of April 12 for schools in the district to reopen for “hybrid” learning.
Hybrid learning means that classes will only be in-person for a couple of days out of the week, and the rest will remain online.
According to the San Diego County Office of Education website, only some schools in SDUSD are currently open for hybrid learning, leaving most students to continue distance learning.
Music director Jo Anita Washburn currently teaches at a middle school in the Oceanside Unified School District.
Washburn told Scriberr that elementary schools returned to in-person classes on March 15, and secondary schools in the district will be reopening on March 29 if San Diego County comes out of the purple tier.
Washburn told Scriberr how difficult it was to transition her classroom into an online setting.
“I think, for my particular subject matter, band, orchestra and choir, it’s definitely a learning curve for me as a teacher because my class tends to be very hands on,” Washburn said.
“So I’ve had to create a lot of coursework or things for them to do online.”
Before the vaccine, she was concerned about going back to teaching in-person but is now confident that schools are getting ready to reopen. Washburn is one of many teachers who received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and says she is ready to get back into the classroom.
“So, my concern at one point before the vaccine came out was that they have done what they need to do for safety for teachers in safety for students,” Washburn said.
“I’m excited to go back and you know since I chose to take the vaccine, I think that I have a little less anxiety about whether I would catch it (COVID-19) or not.”
In northern California, Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) announced that they would begin reopening schools in different phases for hybrid learning at the end of February.
Grades PreK-3 will return on April 9, grades 4-6 will return on April 15, and if Sacramento County is in the red tier, grades 7-12 will return on May 6.
Christina and James Lam are parents to two children in the Sacramento City Unified School District and were notified that their children would be returning to partial in-person instruction in April.
James Lam is also a high school teacher in the SCUSD and was told in-person instruction for high school students in the district would resume in May.
Christina and James told Scriberr that they would not be sending their children to in-person classes this year because of the educational interruption it may cause.
“My husband and I have already decided that both of our kids will stay in distance learning because at this point—as much as I want them to have the social aspect of it, I just don’t feel comfortable sending them back,” Christina Lam said. “If they were to go back they would only be going back for like two months, and then they’d be going on their summer break.”
“For us as the parents and also seeing from a teacher’s background, it’s, I just don’t feel comfortable sending them back at this point.”
James received his first dose of the vaccine, but Christina has not.
Christina told Scriberr that she would feel more comfortable about her children resuming in-person classes if all teachers got vaccinated before returning to school.
“I feel as a parent, I would want the teachers to be vaccinated just because I know that if they’re vaccinated they have less likely chance of carrying the virus and passing it on to our children who aren’t vaccinated,” Christina said.
James Lam, who teaches math to high school students, told Scriberr that the transition to online learning has been hard, especially when giving students assessments.
“In another class, you can probably give smaller tests or do multiple-choice, but with math, you really have to see the work,” Lam said.
“And because of distance learning, I think giving tests has been a lot harder. You can’t force kids to be on the video screen. So, you know, that literally says we can’t assure that the kids aren’t cheating.”
He says he will not be returning to the classroom until next school year since having students come into class a couple of days a week while continuing online may be disruptive in their education.
“From my understanding, what other schools and districts are doing, is that kids are basically returning to school with their computers and sitting in a class but still learning from their computer,” Lam said.
“The only argument I would have for kids returning is the social aspect, but I don’t know if they’ll be getting the same education or force. I think it’ll be disruptive, especially you know, some days you do this, some days you do that again,” he said.
Jennifer Reynaga is a high school English teacher in the SCUSD and told Scriberr her plans to continue distance learning until the end of the school year despite schools opening up.
“I have worked exhaustively (especially when I was figuring everything out first semester), I have a system and relationships, so I would rather finish out the year this way and see if we can avert a fourth wave (though from what I understand, it’s already too late),” Reynaga said.
Like other teachers, she has received the first dose of the vaccine but has concerns about students contracting and spreading the virus.
“I am concerned for them and their families. In Britain, they have found that teenagers can and do spread COVID. Their families are at risk,” Reynaga said.
“Also, I am concerned about the spread of variants. I am not concerned for my own safety now that I am getting vaccinated. I never was, actually. But I don’t want to be a spreader.”
Public schools across California plan on opening up for in-person instruction before the school year ends.