SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – With coronavirus running rampant in the Sacramento area, some California teachers are feeling hesitant about heading back to class.
Citing safety concerns, lack of funding to secure personal protective equipment and surging cases – the California Teachers Association wrote a letter to state leaders pleading to begin the year at a distance.
Many parents are eager to get kids back on campus, though. Christina Jeffers and her daughter are eager to start school once again. But she still has concerns as students inevitably get more comfortable.
“It’s scary that going to school and having familiar contact with friends,” Jeffers said. “They don’t think they might potentially kill each other.”
On the other hand, Tenille Stewart believes there’s no other option for her three kids; in-person learning makes the most sense. She says a student’s mental health outweighs the physical at this point.
“I don’t have a great concern at this point that their health is going to outweigh their safety,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s kids are enrolled in San Juan Unified, one of the Sacramento area’s largest districts. She says she’s been informed of some new protocols to come.
“They’re putting in hand sanitizers at the door,” Stewart said. “Plastic shields at offices where people would walk in.”
But all of these changes have to happen quickly. That causes concern for the California Teachers Association, explaining why they don’t feel safe returning as COVID statistics soar.
“We closed it back then, when it was just starting and we didn’t have the numbers,” E. Toby Boyd, President of the California Teachers Association said. “Now the numbers are steadily going up and we’re hitting new highs. Tell me the logic behind that.”
With weeks to go, most districts still don’t have set plans in place. CBS13 was told many are still scrambling to secure personal protective equipment. A Sac City Unified School District school nurse, Nho Le-Hinds, is hopeful but not entirely confident everything will fall into place in time.
“If we’re still just coming up with the plans – we only have so many weeks to execute it,” Le-Hinds said.
Governor Gavin Newsom addressed the letter in a Thursday press conference and says the primary goal is still to learn in the classroom – not from a distance. But with data changing daily, it may still be too soon to make that call.
“We need to keep people safe and healthy,” Newsom said. “We won’t go back to institutions if we can’t promote the safety and hygiene that’s required.”
CBS13 reached out to a couple of our area’s largest districts as these plans are being developed. Elk Grove Unified School District says they’re still working on their plan.
Sac City Unified put out their draft plan on Wednesday, leaning towards a hybrid distance/in-person model. They plan on working with their community of teachers and parents to finalize it.