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Lompoc Unified School District begins creating plans for potential reopening

Posted at 10:41 PM, Sep 29, 2020

Santa Barbara County moved into the red tier Tuesday, meaning schools could potentially fully reopen in 14 days.

Nearly 300 parents and school staff members signed on for a Lompoc Unified School District zoom meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss what the return to campus would mean as the pandemic continues.

For some parents, enough is enough after LUSD leaders opted out of a waiver that could have reopened school sooner.

"My kids have both of us — my husband and myself — at home working with them every day to help them succeed. If my children are struggling, I can only imagine how many more children are struggling that don't have as many resources as my family and our children are fortunate to have," parent Danielle Riggs said.

"I have to sit here and watch my son cry every day and be frustrated. They miss their friends, they miss their teachers — they've lost so much," parent Janan Byork said.

But for several educators, they say there are huge ramifications of reopening too soon.

"While I believe education is extremely important, I do not think it is ever more important than student or teacher lives," teacher Sarah Wells said.

Some are also concerned with the possibility of schools having to close again following a potential new outbreak.

"When we discuss the mental health of students and staff, I am truly concerned that the not knowing from one day to the next if you'll be in school or learning remotely, will be harder on everyone both emotionally and educationally. These constant re-openings and closings will not allow anyone to settle into a routine - even if that routine is not ideal, it still provides a structure that students need," teacher Thompson Garrard said.

The school board decided Tuesday to create a hybrid and full reopening plan.

Parents are asking for quantitative measurements for things like how much PPE and how many routine cleanings from custodial staff will have to be put in place.

District leaders will also be looking at scaling back how much time elementary school students are spending on the computer. Several parents and teachers complained about the difficulties of keeping kids on their devices for several hours a day.

The district says it will have these plans ready by its next meeting next Tuesday. Depending on how the school board votes, schools could reopen by Oct. 13.