Saturday, February 13, 2021

School Reopenings in California: Whiter, Wealthier Communities More Likely to Bring Back Students

Well, if poorer minority communities are less likely to open schools for in-person instruction, who's fault is that? Certainly not the kids'. 

I don't think California's as bad as Chicago, Illinois, but our state could certainly be doing a better job, and the blame can certainly be placed right at Governor Newsom's feet, who's likely to be facing recall, if those signature petitions, now circulating statewide, gain enough valid signatures. 

We'll see. We'll see.

Meanwhile, at LAT, "Schools in more affluent areas move faster to reopen than those in low-income communities":

South Whittier schools Supt. Gary Gonzales works seven days a week to move his elementary schools closer to reopening. But the barriers are significant: He’s looking for ways to get vaccines to teachers, negotiating with the union and closely monitoring coronavirus case numbers that show that the virus is still ravaging his community, even as case numbers fall countywide.

Gonzales knows his district’s students, almost all of whom are Latinos from low-income families, are struggling under remote learning. And he knows his community is hurting — the pandemic has claimed 118 lives in tiny South Whittier. A date for bringing students back to the classroom is unclear.

“It’s all kind of wait and see,” he said.

Thirty miles away, Supt. Wendy Sinnette of the La Cañada Unified School District, which has among the lowest coronavirus rates in the county and few students from low-income families, has been focused on reopening as many classrooms as possible since November, when students in transitional kindergarten through second grade returned to campus. Third-graders will be welcomed back on Tuesday.

Sinnette spends her days ensuring desks are socially distanced, teachers have KN-95 masks and acrylic plastic dividers are installed.

“When I go on campus and see the in-person instruction that’s happening, it really makes you understand why you’re doing all of this,” she said. “Kids need the structure, to be in school.”

A Times survey of more than 20 school districts throughout Los Angeles County in the past two weeks has found that districts in wealthier, whiter communities such as La Cañada are more likely to be moving full steam ahead to reopen elementary schools and have plans in place to welcome students back as soon as permitted — within as little as two weeks if coronavirus infection rates continue to decline.

They were among the first to bring back their youngest students under waivers and guidelines allowing in-person instruction for high-needs students. These districts are building on that momentum to quickly expand their reopening.

Districts serving less affluent Latino and Black communities — some of the hardest hit by the pandemic — are further behind. Their leaders spoke of the suffering and fears of their families in the darkest months of the pandemic. School officials, measuring the hardships within their communities, largely did not use waivers to bring back young students.

Their teachers and staff, too, harbor ongoing worries about the trajectory of the virus in the neighborhoods they serve. Although they want to bring students back to school, many said their reopening date was uncertain...

Well, maybe if we change some of the names of schools around the state that will make everything all better? 

Still more, in any case.