It’s no secret – the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for our school-aged children. Kids are falling behind while also struggling with increased anxiety and depression despite educators’ and families’ tireless efforts.
While I commend teachers in my district who have returned to the classroom, helping to expedite the safe reopening of our local schools, many parents, teachers, and students across the rest of California who want the option of full in-person learning have not been as fortunate. And recent reports actually indicate that California has made the second WORST school reopening progress in the country, with many kids still being forced to learn from behind screens.
This practice, however, does not extend to all children.
In San Diego County, the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education has permitted in-person instruction for young migrant children – who have been inhumanely smuggled or illegally crossed into the U.S. – at detention facilities. Upon testing, sadly, many of these children have also been found to have much higher COVID-19 rates at 9% compared to San Diego residents at 0.0018%. The rate is “437 times higher” than the threshold that California schools are adhering to. Yet, tax-paying San Diego parents seeking the same opportunities for in-person instruction for their kids have been denied access to school classrooms for an entire year, with San Diego schools only beginning to reopen and phase-in in-person learning last week.
San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond may have said it best:
“We have 130,000 kids who haven’t been allowed in a classroom for over a year in the San Diego Unified School District. It’s great that there’s in-person learning for those unaccompanied minors from Central America, but I wish every child in San Diego Country was allowed the same opportunity for in-person teaching.”
More than a year after schools initially shut down and despite science showing classrooms are safe to reopen, many of California’s 6 million public school students are still learning virtually. This latest decision by the San Diego school board to allow in-person instruction for migrant children is a testament to the value of in-person learning on a student’s emotional and educational success.
But why haven’t all students in California been afforded the same access to an in-person education?