California school districts may apply for waivers for in-person classes

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 24, 2020

School districts in California will be able to apply for waivers to allow in-person learning for elementary school students.

San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein says she's already receiving requests from superintendents to get this waiver. It would be available for kindergarten through 5th grade students only.

"They are infected in much fewer numbers biologically and they also do not appear to transmit to other people," Dr. Borenstein explained.

Once a waiver is submitted to the county's health officer, it'll also be reviewed by the State Health Department.

"But what is required in order to even make the request is that everyone has to be on board. So that's the school teachers, the staff, the community in which the schools are located," Dr. Borenstein said.

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District says it'll be seeking a waiver. Students with special needs, homeless children, and the youngest of kids are the biggest concerns.

"We want to make sure that there's nothing we're doing that we couldn't possibly do to serve these neediest of kids and the littlest ones and it's not just to serve them, it's also with the littlest ones that we get just these gut-wrenching appeals from parents," said Curt Dubost, Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent.

Parents have mixed reactions to the possibility of in-person waivers.

"So the in-learning right now makes me really uncomfortable, just from the COVID and how easily it can be spread," said Amber Gustilo.

Other parents who work full-time say they want their kids back in school.

"We don't have family or family members over here that can help us teach her or stay with her, so it's going to be really difficult to see where we are going to put her," said Sherry Consolascio.

Some are on the fence.

"I have three kids all at different schools, different grades. I know in-person learning is important and I really wish my kids could do it, but I don't like the idea. It's a little bit scary," said Cynthia Langlo.

Dr. Borenstein said COVID-19 information for middle and high school students is less clear, so the waiver will not apply to these grade levels.