Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

A sign in front of of the the Corona-Norco Unified School District schools. Photo courtesy of istock.

Following complaints and pleas from parents, the Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD) Board in California passed a resolution to move forward with in-person schooling as soon as possible, pending state approval. This decision, which occurred during a Special School Board Meeting on Sept. 8 only applies to elementary school students.

“I want them to understand that this is a process that is laid before us via the Governor,” CNUSD Board Member John Zickefoose said prior to passing the resolution. “I don’t want parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers to think we don’t care about them.” 

Governor Newsom released a Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Aug. 28. The blueprint contains a tier system that identifies the risk level of each county based on the number of new cases and the percentage of positive tests in the area. CNUSD is located in Riverside County. As of September 10th, Riverside is in Tier 1 (Widespread Risk) and can’t start in-person schooling until it reaches Tier 2 (Substantial Risk).  School districts that haven’t reached Tier 2 are allowed to apply for a waiver to start limited in-person schooling for grades TK-6. CNUSD will start preparing the waiver application now that the Board has passed this resolution.

Maddie Root  shows off her remote schooling station. Photo courtesy of Allison Root.

“The only schools around us that have [applied for the waiver] are private schools, no public schools have applied yet,” Allison Root, the mother of , Maddie Root, a third grader in the district said. “No one has applied and everyone is wondering why.”

The application requires extensive proof of compliance with the state safety guidelines for schools. It also requires prior consultation with labor, parent, and community organizations. Although the teachers ‘union hasn’t started negotiations, this requirement has led to speculation among  parents that the teachers’ union is causing a delay in the process. 

“These unions fight and fight and fight and say they can’t open,” an unidentified parent said during the public comment portion of the school board meeting.  “I think this is truly an injustice. People are still going to the grocery store, people are still going to target, everyone seems to be doing that safely.” 

Meg E’amato, who has taught in the district for 22 years, expressed a number of concerns about reopening.  She is not against in-person schooling and understands that parents want their kids to return to campus, but she has serious reservations. She believes that some parents aren’t seeing the big picture.

“A lot of our members really want to get back on campus and I just want to make sure that everyone is safe and following the protocols that we have established,” Meg E’amato said after the school board meeting. “There’s so many things that go into these processes. But I think people like to try to pick one thing to put all their anger towards.”

Some staff members have already returned to campus. During this time, a number of staff members have contracted COVID, and according to E’amato, some teachers have witnessed and reported staff protocol breaches.

“I feel like the district is following the protocols, but maybe not all the sites are following the protocols,” E’amato said. 

The debate about when and how CNUSD should return to in-person schooling has been emotionally charged as teachers witness children struggling and falling behind and parents attempt to juggle the challenges of supervising remote learning. 

“I feel like I have to be there, she’s in third grade, typing takes forever,” Allison Root said of helping her daughter Maddie complete her homework assignments. “I know if I did have a job right now it would be way more stressful. It’s horrible that [COVID] happened and I did get laid off, but I can’t imagine having to work and also juggle this, with her, because I’d get no sleep at all. We need to go back to school.”



Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020

A second wave of the coronavirus creates travel woes in Beijing

Hannah Zhang June 29, 2020

Despite a few bumps, NYC is social distancing more than not

Joanna Lin Su June 29, 2020

Backyard music lessons

Madeline Gunderson June 28, 2020

Experts say ISIS exploits chaos of global pandemic to rebuild

Marina Guimaraes June 26, 2020