August 14, 2020

Superintendents navigate safety concerns, conflicting guidance as they plan to reopen schools

CA school superintendents are negotiating an obstacle course of regulations, parental angst and safety concerns as they make plans to do something never done before — reopen schools during a pandemic.

School officials are balancing ensuring the safety of students and teachers with the need to offer child care for parents who must work. They are weighing sometimes conflicting guidance from the state, local health departments and education organizations, and trying to appease parents who have differing opinions about whether their children should wear masks or practice social distancing.

“I’m in Sonoma County, and I’ve been through fire, floods, evacuations, power safety shutdowns, and this is the most stress I’ve been under, and I have a great team,” said Linda Irving, the superintendent of the two-school Sebastopol Union Elementary School District.

School campuses were shut down in mid-March to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Education officials initially thought the shutdown would last only a few weeks, but the order to remain closed continued through the school year as the virus spread.

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