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‘Our kids are suffering’: California families rally to reopen classrooms


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    Elk Grove, California (KCRA) — Holding signs, chanting, cheering and getting honks from people driving by: A group that calls itself the Elk Grove Unified School District Parent Coalition made it known Tuesday they want their kids to go back to school — in person.

“This marks that moment where enough is enough,” said Sean Mitchell, one of the parent organizers. “We’re going to work toward a full reopening plan.”

The parents and students demonstrating outside the school district office said kids are hurting nearly a year into learning solely at a distance.

“We are creating problems for them. We are asking them to be the collateral damage for this,” said parent Alena Villalba. “It’s not fair.”

“Myself as a parent, and all other parents, our back is against the wall,” said Ahmed Mohamed. “We have no support. Our kids are suffering.”

Mitchell explained one of the group’s goals is to get answers from the school board and the district.

In a statement to KCRA 3, the Elk Grove Unified School District said, in part:

“Currently, per the California Department of Public Health, conditions do not allow any of our schools to reopen right now …

“We are following the state’s newly published COVID-19 school guidance checklist to update our EGUSD reopening plan, which was agreed upon in the fall. Those updates are minor and are being made.”

Parents said also adding to their frustration is trying to process information coming from the governor.

In a plan to get kids back in classrooms as early as this month, which was unveiled by Gov. Gavin Newsom at the beginning of January, he said in-person learning could resume if a county’s seven-day average case rate amounted to 28 COVID-19-positive people per 100,000 residents. However, the state has since changed the threshold to 25 per 100,000, according to information on the state’s “Safe Schools for All” site.

According to the California Department of Public Health’s most recent numbers for Sacramento County, of which Elk Grove is a part, the case rate is 28.7 per 100,000 residents.

As soon as Elk Grove’s school district gets the green light to resume in-person instruction, based on state and county guidelines, the district told KCRA 3 its reopening plan includes both a full-distance learning option and an in-person, concurrent learning option for students.

As for kids at the demonstration, they just want to go back to school.

“That’s actually what I want to happen,” said first grader Omar Mohamed. “That me and my friends go back to school like before.”

Their parents are determined to make it happen in whatever way they can.

“Let’s get to work,” said Mitchell. “Let’s roll up our sleeves and work on it, without a day off until it gets done.”

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Article Topic Follows: Health

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