OC teachers, students, parents protesting planned school reopenings

OC Schools KNX
With their campuses set to reopen, some teachers in the Irvine and Newport-Mesa school districts in Orange County are protesting those plans and say they're not willing to resume in-person classes until there's less risk of them or their students catching the coronavirus.

A dad brings his kids back to #GislerElementary in #FountainValley. The kids say they can’t wait to see their friends and their teachers. #BackToSchool2020 #COVID19 @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/oXXKemw7FY

— Jon Baird (@KNXBaird) September 22, 2020

Back to school in #OrangeCounty. Not all districts are reopening for in-person learning at this point. But the district here in #FountainValley sure is. With protocols in place. These kids are going back to #GislerElementary. #SchoolsReopening. #coronavirus. @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/6ilUwZrvQX

— Jon Baird (@KNXBaird) September 22, 2020

The Irvine teachers who oppose quick reopenings are circulating a petition supporting their stand, and say they've already gotten more than 2,000 signatures from other school employees, students and parents.

According to the Los Angeles Times, although the Newport-Mesa Unified School District is scheduled to open next week for students in second grade and younger next week, 75% of teachers said in a survey they felt the district wasn't ready for reopening. 

Paging national news media: OC needs your attention. Schools open Thursday. This thread tells you the insane lack of preparation and protection our teachers and students whose parents have opted for hybrid/traditional are facing. https://t.co/CGLgxwIhQp

— Elizabeth C. McLaughlin ---- (@ECMcLaughlin) September 22, 2020

“We will be jeopardizing the safety of students, staff, and families by resuming in-person instruction,” the petition states according to the LA Times. And “the quality of hybrid, in-person instruction at the secondary level will be inferior to the distance learning model.”

The teacher’s union used the example of a coronavirus outbreak at a Sonoma County child care center, where one child spread the virus to 15 other students, 11 family members, and three staff members, just before the county was forced to close down the facility. 

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley told KTLA she understands the teachers’ concerns.

“There’s a lot of families that want their kids to return to school, they feel like there’s a learning gap that’s developing,” Foley said. “I think elementary school students, it’s kind of hard to learn on Zoom all day. So, I understand those concerns. I think that what some people want is to wait for us to get down to that yellow tier.”

On September 8, Orange County moved into the red tier — a less-restrictive reopening phase in the state’s color-coded system, which launched a14-day countdown for in-person learning. 

All school districts can open for in-person learning starting Sept. 22, if they choose.