PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) — As many districts make the move to return to learning from home, two Placer County districts voted to soon be on campus five days a week.
Roseville Joint Unified High School District and Rocklin Unified both voted Monday night to bring students back on campus full-time, or almost full-time in January. RJUHSD’s school board voted unanimously to begin full-time, five days a week on January 5, 2021, bringing thousands of students back to campus. RUSD voted to start five days a week on a limited schedule beginning January 19, 2021, and will assign students to either an AM or PM group. That is, until April, or until the county reaches the orange tier, whichever may come first.
It’s drawing concern from Rocklin parents like Adrien Pocklington.
“I get an email notification probably every other day about an exposure notice or positive test between the two schools,” Pocklington said.
Numbers from the Rocklin USD’s COVID dashboard show 65 positive cases in the district during the month of December. More than a hundred are listed as exposed, while 374 others are listed as ‘symptomatic.’
Pocklington is a health care worker and says the district’s trends correlate with what she sees in the hospital. Now she’s worried for her kids, other families and teachers when they head back to class five days a week.
“It does not make sense,” she said. “It is not safe.”
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Her thoughts are felt by many in Placer County, but not all. Parents like Jonathan Zachreson see the benefits of reopening full-time.
“If my kids are going to have a fighting chance – they need to be back in school full time,” he said, expressing his hopes for his kids’ class grades to see an improvement and says data and doctors say it’s safe.
At the end of November, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told news outlets “close bars, and keep the schools open.” He’s been on record saying transmission is low in schools between and from kids.
Zachreson is now among many parents excited that some districts are planning to reopen to nearly normal once again.
“The best thing we can do for our community is open schools,” Zachreson said. “The learning loss is horrible. I’ve heard horror stories about mental health – and kids not caring.”
Though news of districts reopening isn’t welcome news to a majority of Rocklin teachers. Travis Mougeotte, president of the Rocklin Teachers Professional Association said a recent survey sent out to teachers shows nearly 90% of them don’t feel safe returning full time yet.
“We’re ready when there’s not a surge,” Mougeotte said. “Until we have a handle on the pandemic in front of us.”
The teachers’ association has filed multiple grievances against the school district this year. When asked what could be next in their plans, Mougeotte said teachers would be meeting and discussing their next move may be, but couldn’t tell CBS13 for certain if a strike could be among the options.
“History shows us if you back people into a corner, they run out of options,” Mougeotte said. “When it comes to unionized industries, that is a tool in the toolbox.”
Most Placer County schools jumped at the chance to partially reopen campuses months ago, but several members of both the Rocklin and RJUHSD school boards say it’s time to take the next step, which is being on campus and trying to find normal again.
As for those who don’t want to return yet, both districts said they still have online options available for students who won’t return to campus. But for those already reporting in-person, Mougeotte said one of the biggest challenges faced (and one he said not going away anytime soon) has been a shortage of substitute teachers when staff may be out sick.