SDUHSD board meeting discusses reopening, health, and inclusion
January 15, 2021
Students, board members, and parents discussed many of the school year’s upcoming plans, questions, comments, and concerns about the latest COVID-19 regulations and reopening procedures at the school board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 14. Additionally, the board heard a presentation from students about including more diversity and inclusion in and out of the classroom.
Safely returning back on campus
One of the main topics discussed in the board meeting was the public health mandates and all people’s safety on campus. Some board members, teachers, and parents stated that they have been facing much “whiplash” as they are always confused about the reopening plan.
Whether it is safe to bring kids back to campus is still not confirmed. The latest CDC guidelines released last night, states that “waivers to open schools are still an option, even if counties are in the purple tier. When a county has been in the “red” tier for at least two weeks, it can begin to pursue reopening. A county can reopen schools for classroom learning if it is off the watch list for 14 days.”
This statement complicates the current push to get students back on campus due to the significant increase in the number of cases each day, according to the CDC.
Parents and students who are concerned about the latest reopening plans brought up that they were not feeling safe under the current plans. In response, the board said, “safety is our number one priority.”
A few parents said that their kids needed to return to campus due to their mental, physical, or emotional health. “Students are losing valuable time,” said one anonymous parent. “They need to see their friends, this is hurting them, and they are missing many opportunities.” The board has brought back students who need in-person schooling most, whether for special needs.
The board says they will be transparent and ensure that anyone who has come in contact with someone who tested positive would be informed. However, the board said they are not allowed to say who or what class has a positive case of COVID-19. Only the people who were to come in close contact with the infected individual would be notified about the positive test result.
Transparency and communication
Another aspect that repeatedly arose was the board’s transparency. “We want you to be clear, trustworthy, and to inform the public on anything that might concern them as well as care for the people around you, including what the teachers have to say!” said an anonymous public commenter.
Additionally, there were many worries about the teachers are not being recognized for what they are doing. Many speakers also said it would be most beneficial to ask the teachers what to do in every decision as they put their lives at risk to teach and take care of students. “Successful students equal successful teachers,” said an anonymous speaker. “There is no one way or the other, and for things to go smoothly, everyone has to work together.”
Some teachers spoke up, saying that they live out of fear because the only options available to them are that they can only go back in person or take an unexcused bail. Many hope that the board will continue to provide accommodations for teachers who cannot attend in person and would like to stay online.
“You must do your job and listen to scientists, support and protect all teachers and their opinions, stop the cruel uncertainty and put things in writing, and treat people with respect and purpose,” said one anonymous speaker. “The social media posts targeted at teachers, staff, and students are only adding fuel to the fire. We need to depend on the school to feel safe and heard.”
Many individuals also suggested that the board provide more written communication to help give people an idea of what to expect in terms of the ever-evolving reopening plan.
“Principals and teachers are representing their schools and have powerful voices for their students that are helping kids get through these tough times,” said SDA student board representative Cassie Miller. “The Board needs to define its ‘reopen’ plans and develop a plan while getting teachers to input on what to do.”
This is a continuous discussion. However, one thing is sure: the health and safety of staff, students, and teachers is the board’s number one priority, so they will not be bringing kids back to campus until it is safe for all.
Diversity and Inclusion
Towards the end of the meeting, Encinitas for Equality and Diversify our Narrative SDUHSD students like SDA sophomores Joy Ruppert and Aya Jaffer and CCA senior Ella Sobhani spoke about their multiple initiatives and goals. They have connected with numerous organizations throughout the district and professors. Additionally, they organized projects such as districtwide personal stories of racism project, district proposals, and protests. Their team recently hosted Diversify Our Classroom, a webinar inviting guest speakers about ethnic studies, on Jan. 15.
They hope to encourage each SDUHSD school to establish its own multicultural and diversity club, hold multicultural days and other events celebrating our district’s diversity, and eventually, have ethnic studies separate, mandatory classes for high school graduation.
If you’d like to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, school, and email address. This email will add you to a Slack channel where you will receive all the information. They meet weekly on Fridays at 3 pm via Zoom.
The next board meeting is on Jan. 21 at 5 pm. The live stream will be posted on their website.