Parents, teachers weigh in on reopening schools amid pandemic

July 22, 2020 /

Kern County school districts are currently making decisions on how they are reopening in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The options have been to either go completely online, have a hybrid model, or give parents the opportunity to choose the best fit for their children. The hybrid plans will consist of students only going to school for a few days out of the week. 

This has been a somewhat controversial conversation between parents, teachers, and some students. Some teachers would want to have a safe hybrid model to be able to give students the attention needed and see better when they are struggling. However, the concern for staying healthy makes the online option seem safer. 

“My experience with distance learning is that I had a lot of kids, you can’t tell if they get it or not and you just have to keep going without them. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is.” said Sergio Espain, a high school English and workforce teacher. 

Espain expressed his concern for wanting to teach his students in person but worrying about the cleanliness of the classrooms. It would be on him to make sure the class is sanitized and ready before another student comes in next period.

“I love my job, I love my students, but I kind of want to be able to say I can do this job for another 25 years.” said, Espain. 

Some teachers would prefer a shift to online only classes at the start of fall in fear of bringing the virus home to their children. 

“I’m hoping for online teaching because my son is high risk. My worry is that I will go to work and bring it home to him.” said, Susanna Marquez, high school English teacher. 

Parents are concerned for their children going to school and getting sick from other kids. It is common for students to also live with grandparents or older aunts and uncles that could be at a higher risk. So, some parents are not willing to put their children in a situation that will put them at a higher risk. 

“I know that a lot of people are still thinking it’s (COVID-19) not a real thing and they don’t take care of themselves.” said Cecilia Delgado, a parent of an incoming 7th grader and 10th grader, explaining why she’d rather her kids stay home with independent studies. “So, if we put the children in school, knowing that some of the parents don’t believe in it they’re probably not going to ask them to protect themselves. My children will possibly take the risk of getting it from other students who are not as careful as I would ask my kids to be.”

Delgado also takes her daughter, Victoria Delgado, opinion into mind although she doesn’t agree. Her daughter will be going in the 10th grade and feels that high school students should be allowed back because they are older and know the seriousness of staying distanced from each other. Staying home for school will affect their social and emotional well being. 

Parents’ concern with staying home is that a lot of children do not have the needed materials for doing school work from home. Parents would like for the district to provide the laptop and internet to students along with teachers doing video classes with the kids and sticking to a scheduled time with roll. 

Teachers advise students during this time to reach out to their teachers everyday for help and maintain a connection in the class. Also remember that they are not alone during this and the teachers and understand what they are dealing with. 

“Parents need to figure out some sort of co-opt system that maybe they can work together and have their kids group and work on assignments together, in ways that are safe and in smaller groups.” said Alison Hamm, a jr. high teacher giving advice to students at home, “If they’re older and their school sites have school counselors and they’re really struggling with any sort of mental health issues then definitely reaching out to those counselors or a teacher that  they feel connected to.”

“For the students that are lost and don’t know what to do, they need to know that they are not alone in their despair.” said Espain giving advice to students. Us teachers worry about them too. I still worry about the kids who dropped off the face of the planet and never responded to an email”

JaNell Gore

Ja'Nell Gore is a student at Cal State Bakersfield. In addition to writing for Kern Sol News she is a poet who loves any chance she has to perform and be with her community.