Photo by Taylor Lee
The public speaks out about school reopening in second quarter
Public comments and opinions on schools reopening
October 26, 2020
At the conclusion of the SDUHSD board’s October 14 meeting, the school board opened the floor for public comments, allowing the public 24 hours to voice their opinions on the proposed return to in-person school before a vote was proposed on Oct. 15. Many people expressed their views on the reopening, along with some opinions about new facilities in the district and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students.
Many citizens voiced their disapproval for the board’s proposal to return to in-person education, citing the potential dangers of such a plan. A google form was made available to write comments for the school board’s meeting and the comments were made available to view here.
Joshua Charet-Collins wrote, “Against a virus that has killed upwards of 200,000 in the United States alone, the District, under the guidance of the board, has taken little action. Filtration in schools is still inadequate. Classes are not cleaned between periods. Facing the impossibility of social distancing in a classroom of 40 students, the District says it will protect teachers with Plexiglass screens, completely ignoring the science pointing to their ineffectiveness. However, it appears ignorance of both science and human decency is to be expected. Instead of augmenting these feeble measures in order to ensure the safety of the students and teachers of the District, the Board has given teachers a cruel ultimatum—put themselves at risk of infection by returning to school, or be cut loose without health benefits.”
“Parents, teachers, and others, as we get frustrated and vent; Remember [sic] not to trade what you want most (a stable, thriving District with happy kids and supported site staff) for what you want at the moment (a rushed, poorly thought through and the farce of a reopening),” Heather Dugdale added.
“While viewing Wednesdays [sic] meeting, I am struck by the lack of significant change and any in-depth plans or response to serious questions asked. The re-opening committee work has not even been mentioned. Testing plans and protocols for students and staff (and who, where, how this will be done) is not meaningful included or addressed in any way. Misleading insinuations about the lack of transmission and outbreak in San Diego schools were presented. Air filtration Cat 2 is not adequate for viruses no matter how often you change filters. Teachers do not have cleaning supplies,” Molly Schneider said. “At the same time, we are in a meeting that doesn’t go beyond the lowest level of thinking and praising ourselves for doing ‘everything we can do,’ the colleges and universities are canceling [sic] spring breaks to try to curb transmission. The staff, student, and public comments haven’t even been evaluated. Respectfully, please slow down this train!”
Some individuals cited the poor conditions for returning teachers as their reason for opposing the reopening plans.
“The students and our well-being should be (and have been) a focal point in reopening discussions, but respectfully, I feel our staff members have been blatantly ignored and disrespected, which I find to be blasphemous. They have done an incredible job being flexible with these unprecedented times, asking them to reverse course and mandate them to transition smoothly and obediently is 1) significantly above their pay grade, and 2) so incredibly naive and inconsiderate of the challenges they face. Everyone has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but when discussing our schools moving forward, it seems there is no sympathy and understanding for the problems our teachers are working through,” Jeremy Scheider submitted.
While the public comments pertaining to the district’s reopening plans were overwhelmingly against, they don’t necessarily represent the district’s views as a whole.
A freshman at San Dieguito Academy, Kelton Blakely said, “I really do want to go back to school. I feel like we should go back. I feel like if we do what we need to do like by the CDC, and have groups and do social distancing. I feel like it would be very safe to go back, in my opinion.”
She also expressed that, “I’m super excited to go back. I can’t wait to go back and have a normal life, or somewhat normal, and meet new people, get to know teachers better, and to join clubs and sports.”
While many public commenters expressed their views opposing the reopening of the district’s schools, others have expressed their desire to have students go back to school. Both views have been shared at different events, such as protests, across the district.