EL DORADO HILLS (CBS13) — Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the area and now could be impacting schools.

Thousands of El Dorado Hills students are back at home distance learning for the week. Meanwhile, other districts continue to push through the surge.

Isabelle Grupp is a student at Oak Ridge High School who traded the classroom for her home this week.

“It just feels like we’re in school trying to learn, but it doesn’t feel the same,” she said.

She’s one of the hundreds of Oak Ridge students waiting for the week to be through to return to school in person again.

Her dad, Rob Grupp, wasn’t surprised to receive the email that it was back to distance learning once more.

“Nothing is surprising anymore,” he said. “If anything, I’m glad they’re playing it safe.”

Isabelle is happy to be healthy when more than a dozen of her peers at school may not be.

“It is a little scary sometimes going to school,” she said. “But I haven’t gotten COVID and none of my friends have gotten it, so I’ve been safe.”

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As the chances of catching the virus in the community continue to climb, it’s prompting concerns from some — wondering if schools are still a safe place during the new height of the pandemic. Though despite the recent spike, infectious disease experts like Dr. Dean Blumberg say schools can still be safe – even with concerns regarding asymptomatic spread.

“There’s reason to be concerned about that,” Dr. Blumberg said. “But with experiences in schools – we know they play a very small role of transmission in the community.”

Dr. Blumberg said schools should be flexible and react accordingly when positive cases pop up. Especially as the greater area pushes through the holidays when an influx of cases can be expected. A one-week shutdown like Oak Ridge’s, he said, is the right call.

In Placer County, the Placer Union High School District recently returned from their own “pause” and called these last few weeks of the semester critical. In Yolo County, Washington Unified, a district that has still not returned for in-person instruction, has chosen not to bring small cohorts of more vulnerable students back just yet.

The district’s superintendent, Linda Luna, said many other districts are likely feeling the same way.

“Is it really the most prudent thing? Is it the right thing to do at this time?” Luna said. “We wanted to just take a pause – not just for our students but for our staff.”

As of now, other districts that have returned to hybrid models of teaching are continuing to do so and keeping tabs on the health of their students and staff in case of a flare-up.

But, Dr. Blumberg said a lack of adequate testing or contract tracing could put schools at risk.

Heather Janssen