Parents in California in a dilemma about sending their children to school

Ritu Jha-

With Omicron rising, worried parents say they have no option but to send their children to school; however, they wish the school could have made it virtual if they couldn’t delay the opening.

New cases leaped in California in the week ending Sunday, rising 114.8% as 526,817 cases were reported. The previous week had 245,210 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

California ranked 23rd among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In the latest week coronavirus cases in the United States increased 75.9% from the week before, with 4,967,431 cases reported. With 11.87% of the country’s population, California had 10.61% of the country’s cases in the last week. Across the country, 49 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Sushmita, who wants to go by her first name, told indica before the school opens on Jan 10, she has tested their two children enrolled in Fremont Unified school district, and asked,” what options do we have.”

“It’s concerning, but they cannot miss the school…wish they would have adopted virtual for a month,” she said and welcomed the state initiative to distribute free covid testing kit, said, “I was in the queue for 3 hours. But the question is again, and each test kit box carries only two tests. I have already used one.”

Another parent based in the city of Dublin and her son is enrolled in Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) said there is a petition ongoing ‘DUSD delay school start or go virtual” and has received over 2,462 signatures, but the school has decided to still open; she said she is concerned that if the school offers regular classes online is welcome and not two hours virtual.

“They give homework, rest of the work we parents have to do. So, fingers crossed, I am sending them to school, though she said I had signed the petition.”

Arun Goel, former city council and servers on the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), District 5, has two high school children enrolled in DUSD, told indica, “We are all concerned but also need to make sure kids education is not sacrificed. They also have a screening questionnaire daily. I believe DUSD is doing a proactive well-planned execution.”

Adding further said, “I believe schools are trying the necessary precautions and testing all twice before returning.”

Chris D. Funk, Superintendent Dublin Unified School District, in his message to the parents, wrote: “If your child is sick with a cold, flu, or COVID, please keep them at home until they are no longer symptomatic. We want our schools to be as safe as possible for students and staff, and each one of us plays a role in making that happen. We are committed to keeping our schools open because in-person learning is the best way to meet our student’s academic and social-emotional needs.

“We look forward to seeing you on Monday(Jan 10).”

Goel, sounding hopeful, said that if case rates increase or positive tests are provided indicating otherwise, the county education and health will take additional precautions.

Even the superintendent’s office for the Milpitas Unified School District sent a note to parents on Saturday, Jan 9, informing parents that they are reversing the school district’s decision to go fully remote from January 10 to 17 temporarily but are opening in-person school starting January 10.

When indica reached the California Department of Public Health, Office of Communications on why they are, and the number of Covid test kits distributed said through an email: “California is committed to our goal of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our schools safe.”

Over the last several weeks, the state has made millions of tests available to counties, and county offices of education are coordinating distribution processes to get those tests into the hands of students and parents as soon as possible.

As of January 6, 2022, the state has delivered over 7.1 million tests to school districts and county offices of education. Earlier in December, California also sent millions of tests to schools in anticipation of a caseload surge and increased demand for testing. California preemptively sent approximately 2 million at-home COVID tests to 3,000 schools across the state, and many schools sent students home from Winter break with COVID tests in hand. These efforts will ensure California schools remain among the safest in the nation.

While California educates over 12% of the nation’s students, the state accounts for only 0.3% of school closures nationwide in the 2021-22 school year. As has always been the case, CDPH K-12 Schools guidance (in Section 10) recommends that individuals follow the general CDPH guidance regarding isolation.

Thus, per the now-updated general CDPH guidance, for “Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection or lack of symptoms… Isolation can end after day five if symptoms are not present or are resolving and a diagnostic specimen collected on day five or later tests negative.”


[Photo courtesy: Saanya Goel]