Stockton Unified School District was one of the first districts to make the major decision ahead of school starting on Aug. 3. But the San Joaquin County Health Department has put the pressure on all districts in their area to do the same as coronavirus cases near the 7,000 mark.
Several parents, like Melissa Garcia in the Stockton area, say they’re thankful their district made this decision.
“I’m happy that we’re going to do distance learning, I know it’s going to be harder on us as parents,” Garcia said. “But anything we have to do to make sure our kids are safe.”
Districts in the Sacramento area are still looking at whether to follow suit. The Natomas Unified School District announced they’d be delaying the start of classes by two weeks to see if COVID data drops.
But there are some things parents say are sensitive, like those trying to make sure their kids get the quality of education they need.
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As COVID cases spike, districts say making adjustments makes sense.
“People joke that I’m supermom but there’s certain things that are outside of my ability,” Krystina Logan, a Stockton mother of four, said.
She has many titles, but Logan said being a teacher to her daughter Emma isn’t really one of them.
“She might last 10-15 minutes – but then it’s like ‘you’re not the teacher, mom, I don’t want to listen to you,’” Logan said.
Emma is one of her four children in the school system in the state of California. But she learns with an individualized education plan for her speech. Logan says therapy and one-on-one help makes a huge difference for her daughter. She said her daughter’s speech, while it may sound simple, impacts much more.
“It’s still an issue that affects the rest of their school, Logan said. “The reading, to be able to sound out the words.”
Logan isn’t the only one wondering how schools are going to accommodate kids like Emma with these kinds of circumstances. Stockton Unified said their efforts to work with these students won’t change.
“All of the services kids are eligible for and receive – they will continue to receive,” Interim Deputy Superintendent Tamara Pronoitis said. Things just may look a little different with more done virtually on video calls.
On a broader scale, teachers may also be teaching in their classrooms solo while kids tune in. But Logan still worries what could be missing.
“They really need that special attention that being in school provides — that having that instruction provides,” Logan said.
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Distance learning still poses a lot of questions for parents, though. Some wondering how to make things work with work, yet again.
“My husband is gone during the day and we shift passing at night,” Melissa Garcia said. “It is what it is – that’s the time we’re in right now.
Garcia said she’s one of the lucky ones. For her children, a parent is always home. But for many other parents, news of distance learning means figuring out how to balance work and school from home.
Pronoitis with Stockton Unified said as a district leader she understands because she’s battling it as a mom too.
“We have working families that need to be working, but for right now with the distance learning and mandates towards the county,” Pronoitis said. “It’s an interesting spot to be in.”
Pronoitis said when her kids aren’t in school like they normally would be, she’s had to rely on family members like grandparents to help watch them but realizes not everyone is so fortunate.
As for what other parents may be doing, some say they’ve been able to work from home. Others changed their work schedule around. Most parents are just happy their children will be at home safe.
Stockton Unified says distance learning may not be permanent for the year, though. They’re prepared to switch to a hybrid mix of online and in-person as soon as the numbers allow.