SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--Santa Barbara Unified School Board members listened to parents and teachers before deciding not to send elementary school children back to class on November 9.
One of the most emotional comments came from educator Barbara Barr.
The longtime Roosevelt Elementary School teacher said her dad died from a COVID-19 related heart attack during the summer.
"He told me that my step-brother went out and did not follow safety precautions. Fearing the worst, I took the time to tell my dad that I appreciated him, and that he had made my life amazing. In July, my stepbrother ended up bringing COVID into the house. My dad died from a heart attack before they could get him to the hospital. We had a memorial service for him on Facebook and if you watch it you can see my step- brother sobbing and begging my father for forgiveness," said Barr.
Board members also heard from parents who accused them of using students as pawns to delay in-person learning, while other schools are opening and while the county has given schools the green light to return with modifications.
Board members unanimously chose to be cautious.
Before returning to in-person learning the district intends to hire at least six additional custodians to help disinfect the schools regularly.
The district is also planning to hire part-time playgrounds supervisors, para-educators and substitute teachers.
People may go to sbunified.org to apply.
The Hybrid model will begin on January 19 if the county has reached the "Orange" moderate transmission tier.
More than 700 people attended the Zoom meeting, more than 20 people signed up to speak.
School Board member Kate Ford said, "I support the change of recommendation and return to school in hybrid for all to January 19 wholeheartedly, because first and foremost, we must be more mindful of comprehensive information that parents and teachers deserve in order to be excited and optimistic about the change."
Children will be required to wear masks, or shields unless they have an exemption, and parents will not be allowed on campus.
Hybrid learning models will involve a combination of in-person and at- home distance learning, as well as independent learning and outdoor activities.
In a statement released after the meeting Superintendant Hilda Maldonado said, " I'm pleased to have the board's support, along with the teacher's commitment and our parent's understanding, that returning on January 19 is the best course forward for out students."
Maldonado said families will receive more details about hybrid learning in each grade level in the coming weeks.