Reopening of school districts leaves parents with questions

Posted at 10:20 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 02:16:45-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Like many parents, some with students of the Panama Buena Vista School District are calling for transparency and would like to be more involved in the returning process for in-person learning. Jason Cohen is one of those parents and says the process has been frustrating.

“This isn't us against them. It's our community trying to move forward and I'll be at the table to do something positive for kids and teachers,” Cohen said.

Cohen is a father of four children who attend Stockdale Elementary in the Panama Buena Vista Union School District. He says distant learning has been challenging- but as the district discusses the reopening process he and other parents- want to be more involved In the decision making.

“Now the only way your voice can be heard is if you know where to look to find the email address to submit a public comment. It's not a conversation and that's really what needs to happen, there's a lack of response.”

According to the PBVUSD, they had to rearrange and delay their reopening plans since March of 2020. Based on the Governor's latest guidelines released on Jan. 14, for reopening, the district in a statement shared with 23ABC that they sent two messages to families in January to explain the changes in the guidelines. But Cohen says the communication could have been better.

“The school's website, the district's website, if you go to it the update was in January 20 or 21. And it has a lot of November dates and a lot of 'to be announced', well that doesn't really help,” he said.

The new phased plan online includes 25-page Powerpoint, which includes safety measures for both staff and students and a timeline for projected reopening.

It cites Governor Newsom's new extensive guidelines for reopening that were made public on Jan.14.

It reads, “A school looking to reopen must have offered in-person instruction to all students in at least one grade while in the red tier during fall of 2020 in order to reopen.”

A county must have a 5-day average case rate of fewer than 25 cases/100,000 people per day and the school site must submit an updated COVID safety plan to local and state officials.

According to the district, they submitted their necessary documents on Jan. 29 and the plans can be found on the district's website.

Cohen says he understands the challenges the district face but says a great deal of the information online is not clear.

“Our children are more valued than money but yet there is no citizens oversight in the game plan, no strategy involving," he said. "There needs to be parent-teacher-admin's involvement in these decisions."

If you would like to read the full document for the districts reopening phase process head to their website under COVID resources.