#schoolsafety | New safety protocols await students returning to Santa Rosa schools

With a new deal inked between teachers and the district that clears the way for a return to campuses next month, Santa Rosa City Schools officials have launched an outreach campaign to educate students and parents about what school will look like and what responsibilities families have to maintain health and safety protocols when kids begin returning starting April 1.

Nearly 500 people attended an online forum Thursday night as district officials answered more than 200 questions that ranged from what will recess look like to who will be in charge of administering the required periodic nasal swabs of students. Scores of parents expressed worry that their children would be re-assigned to a new teacher depending on if they chose to return to school part-time or stick with distance learning until the end of the school year.

District officials have sent out a flurry of communications in both English and Spanish to parents in an attempt to educate families about a slew of new rules and a number of radical changes in how school will run.

Requirements include daily health screenings before school, periodic nasal swabs, strict rules on drop-off and pick-up, as well a litany of other on-campus changes. Many questions Thursday were focused on elementary schools, as they open first beginning on April 1. A second forum is slated to be held in advance of middle and high schools reopening on April 26.

But many of the health and safety requirements are the same no matter the age of the student. Crucial to all return-to-school plans is parents doing daily health screens of their children before sending them to school, said Superintendent Diann Kitamura.

“I cannot impress upon everyone — adults, children, staff and parents — how important it is for these self-assessments to happen,” she said. “The last thing we want to do is have to close school after waiting so long, over a year, to get back to school. So my expectation is that as parents you all download this application, do the self-assessment and make sure that if your child is not feeling well you keep them home.”

For elementary students, class rosters and which days of the week students will come to campus for in-person learning are expected to be released Friday.

This story will be updated.

You can reach Staff Writer Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @benefield.

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