MENDOCINO Co., 7/15/20 — The Ukiah Unified school board voted in favor of returning children to in-person school on Monday night by a six to one vote. The meeting was not held in-person but as a marathon, nearly five hour long zoom meeting with frustrated staff and parents calling in to voice concerns. According to the plan, schools will be open four full days a week, with students split into two groups attending in person two days each week, beginning Monday, Aug 17.
(Watch the whole meeting on Youtube, scroll down for more news)
In 2019, the return to school would not have been newsworthy, much less a subject that would bring opposition for much of a five-hour meeting held entirely on the computer screen.
“The Ukiah Teachers Association is extremely disappointed that the UUSD Board members did not listen to the voices of the Ukiah community last night to choose the only safe option to open school with distance learning [only],” wrote Terry d’Selkie, UTA board president, in an email interview. She spoke at the meeting for the executive board and 175 of the UTA members who lent their name to a strong statement against resumption of in-person classes until the pandemic slows down. The UTA has more than328 members. The statewide California Teachers Association has also recently come out in support of virtual only openings. as positive tests and hospitalizations rise statewide.
Trustees cited the support of the county health officer for reopening, as well as the pleadings of parents for better learning and noted that they also were unhappy with all the choices presented in these times.
The UUSD plan can be viewed at their website. According to the plant students will attend their usual school two days each week (either Monday & Tuesday or Thursday & Friday) and will learn virtually the other three days each week — though parents will also be allowed to have their children do all distance learning. By having only half the pupils present at any time, it is hoped that great social distancing will be accomplished. Wednesdays will be used to conduct a thorough deep cleaning of campuses.
As part of this plan students will be required to complete four hours of distance learning every school day when not on campus. If a family has students in multiple grades or more than one school, these students will all be attending school on the same days.
Many of the larger school districts in the state, including the Los Angeles Unified School District (second largest in the country), San Diego Unified, and the West Contra Costa County Unified, will be opening their Chromebooks and Macs, but not their doors. Other districts are opting for half days.
Ukiah’s present plan is to stagger lunches and recesses throughout the day to allow for social distancing. Many details remain to be worked out in negotiations among staff, faculty and the district leadership.
Lunch (where mask wearing won’t work) and recess are among the most problematic issues the district faces.
“It could turn out lunch is literally impossible and something that would have to change, “ said trustee Megan Van Sant during the meeting.
The school hours for the in-person reopening will be the same or similar to last year,” said Doug Shald, district communications officer
“My heart is heavy but I have to advocate for starting the school year fully online,” said Teel Gordon, a math teacher during the virtual board meeting.
Gordon read a statement from a student who described how science trumped the normal desire of many students to get out of the house and back to school.
“Teaching means more to me than almost anything in my life and I look forward to meeting my new students next month regardless of the situation,” Gordon said.
About 30 teachers and staff spoke during the five-hour meeting, most to oppose the leadership staff recommended “hybrid plan” the board ultimately chose, which was a compromise between full reopening and virtual-only classes.
“Dozens of Ukiah teachers, staff and parents sent letters, called, as well as spoke eloquently last night, and to no avail,” said union president d’Selkie in her email to The Mendocino Voice.
“The Board decided to go against the science of what we know so far about COVID-19 transmission; against the wishes of the employees who will now be forced to put themselves at risk; and against the community who asked the board to do the safe thing and start the school year with distance learning.”
Trustees said the hybrid plan was flexible and represented the best way forward. The district may go in and out of four attendance models for learning during the school year ranging from all distance learning to full reopening.
“We are not starting gung ho. I’m comfortable with the plan in the middle, we can still go either way.,” said trustee Bea Arkin
Board President Anne Molgaard, who provided the lone “no” vote, said everyone would have to show a “lot of patience” with each other at this time.
She said the fears expressed by teachers at the meeting could impact the quality of their teaching.
“We know that this is a rapidly changing situation. We may have to pivot based on what the science tells us as time goes on. I don’t think where we are in August is where we will be in December or is where we will be in May,” Molgaard said.
Many parents have asked the school board to improve the education of their children by bringing back live contact with teachers.
“Parents are deeply dissatisfied with distance learning being able to meet their children’s needs,” said trustee Van Sant.
Others worry that the pandemic could go on for months or years and students will need more than distance learning.
“As teachers, we all believe that in-person learning is best. But the current circumstances warrant a pause until we can be absolutely sure the numbers of cases are at zero for 14 days in our county. I hope the Board will rethink this ill-thought decision of in person learning, before there is one death or serious illness because of it, d’Selkie said.
Teachers questioned whether underfunded and understaffed schools could remain safe with all the logistics required. Trustee Tyler Nelson asked Superintendent Debra Kubin whether the plan presented staffing shortages.
“We have a great team and a great staff. It’s a more challenging year than others for sure. When we need more [funding] we will come to you, “ Kubin said.
The five-hour meeting was held virtually with people entering through the Zoom waiting room. At times, Zoom created an echo chamber where comments repeated over and over, as the program tends to do.
“It’s so funny not to be able to look out and see real people, assuming you are all out there,” said Molgaard.
Ukiah High teacher Ben O’Neill, who is also a firefighter, said 81 percent of teachers who voted at the high school yesterday voted for distance learning, a big change from a survey taken July 2.
“We are afraid of getting sick and passing it onto our loved ones…In the fire service we have what are called trigger points. If a fire gets so big it will react in a certain way. We as teachers would like to know the district’s trigger point is. If I catch COVID-19, will you close my classroom? If one of my students or I die, will you chalk it up to us having poor immune systems? Hard questions. I don’t envy your position but I do respect your time.”
Students and staff will be required to wear facial coverings while physically attending school in person except when eating or outside physically distanced. Health and safety protocols will include social distancing, frequent hand washing, health screenings, increased sanitation, no parent volunteers and new limits on visitors.
“Our teachers are the most important thing when it comes to our children’s education, and that’s why it is so important that we get the kids in front of teachers as much as possible,” said trustee Nelson, in a press release following the meeting.
The district press release said more than 50 district staff and community members worked since May to make recommendations and draft plans presented to trustees Monday night.
Kubin said, “Today I confirmed that our Public Health Officer still recommends a hybrid model in light of our current numbers and trends. We have 35 days left until the first day of school. However, we know that much can change between now and then. We have created a flexible plan with four different models if the health conditions cause us to pivot from one model to another. We know this is a tough decision for our families, and we will support our students and families no matter which model is selected. Families are urged to make the decision that’s best. Ukiah Unified is doing as much as we possibly can to offer options and choices to continue to support our students’ academic and social-emotional needs during this unprecedented and stressful time.”
Trustees also approved funding for custodial, facility, and technology enhancements, professional development, and the addition of a Family Community Liaison position to focus on COVID-19 related issues and to support school interactions with Public Health. These expenses would come from the additional one-time COVID-19 funds UUSD will receive in the 2020-2021 school year.
It will be necessary for parents and guardians to choose between the Hybrid Model or Distance Learning very soon. UUSD will send parents an email with instructions about how to indicate a choice for each student. View the complete plan at www.uusd.net.
For more information, contact Shald, district communications officer, at 707.472.5005 or [email protected].
Here’s a quote you forgot to mention:
“When we die we just don’t wake up, we go to heaven and everything is fine. ”
-Trustee Diaz, Ukiah Unified School Board
Please watch the school board meeting yourself and see the comments made from our school board. Many are appalling and call to question their qualification for making this decision.
Please also note they cut off the Teacher Association president and switched the public comment time from 3 minutes to 2 with no prior warning.
Some of their comments suggest teachers will be bad at teaching if we are scared. Another suggests they are lucky to only be teaching half the class and we can “play with remote learning”. Another suggests “we are so sorry that we are putting teachers outside their comfort zone”. And one joke by Nelson (In reflecting on his own experience), suggests teachers have no way of knowing they have covid when they wake up, it could be a hangover.
Please watch the board meeting and consider the school board’s position and if it’s really in the best interest of our community.
Please go to Merriam-Webster’s website and look up the word, “hypocrite.”
Compare your support for Black Lives Matter “peaceful protests” sans social distancing with your criticism of comments from the school board.
I am a retired school superintendent from Ohio. I believe that the USD plan to reopen is putting all of our children and teachers at risk. The loss of one life is not worth the reopening. I do not like the idea of postponing school and I understand the pressure that parents are putting on the school district but someone has to stand up and take the heat in order to protect the young people in our community.
Those most affected by keeping schools closed are those who come from homes with no or very limited income and those children whose parents are not capable to supervising their learning. I understand that. Another alternative must be found for these children. It will require creative thinking and altering how resources are used. It will also take time.
You are a dangerous kook who aims to permanently injure children. Your Piled high and Deep (Ph.D.) is meaningless when rational analysis is dispensed with. I would suggest what you advocate rivals or exceeds the trauma inflicted on a child by a child molestor. Who in our community will stand up for our child to protect them from the likes of YOU?
“The loss of one life is not worth the reopening.” Easy for you to say, since you are already a sociopath. I’d much prefer not creating an entire cohort of sociopathic kids through dehumanization ala what you promote.
“The loss of one life is not worth the reopening.” “The loss of one life is not worth the ‘right to choose’.” “The loss of one life is not worth further lockdown.”
Life is valuable when it has meaning. For you, quantity is far more important than quality.
Did you fall off your rocker? Your anger is amusing, you are your own worst enemy. I think you forgot to take your crazy pills today. What’s up with your irrelevant rambling about child molestors when this article is about Covid-19 and our community? I want to call you a disgrace but I think your problem is ignorance. Either way, you crazy and are a lost cause. Ramble away, hopefully no one but the voices in your head take you serious.
Anonymous Coward aka “You crazy JC”:
Aww, did I trigger you?
My reference to child molestors is hardly irrelevant. I’m calling “people” like you equal to or even WORSE than child molestors, because of the active harm you’re demanding for kids. Most molestation involves trauma less than the damage your hysteria is insisting on. Therapy isn’t going to suffice to repair the permanent damage your cult claims is “best” for the children. Organized, enduring, systemic dehumanization is the foundation for your “plan” for schools.
You’re getting one warning. Our commenting policy says no personal insults or attacks, or trolling. Reign it in or we’ll block you.
Oh noes, “one warning.” Apparently, you think I am an amateur who doesn’t know much about the Internet. How many IP ranges are you up to blocking?
It’s become perfectly clear through this assault on America that the media is, indeed, the Enemy of the People, considering how nearly all “journalists” (sic) are but mouthpieces for lying government kooks. You claim you’re “different” than the Ukiah Daily Urinal, etc., but are, in fact, the UDJ’s residue under a new banner.
You totally ignore the frequent, repeated attacks on those of us who don’t subscribe the Cult of COVID, including the comment attacking me as “crazy” above. Typical hypocrisy of the professional liar class (wrongly claimed to be “journalists”).
War is being waged on America and the majority of the American people right now. Don’t be surprised when some of us object, loudly. Your inability (?) to comprehend what the Cult of COVID is doing to real, live human beings must be a genuine example of “White Privilege” (or is it Jewish Privilege?). That you are “outraged” by my posts, but not the catastrophic damage even just here in Mendocino County is very telling.
You pretty much have two options: 1) you can shut down the comment sections here, or, 2) you can respect that people are JUSTLY angry at the war being waged on us, and butt out of these issues in which you hypocritically censure only one side. Choosing the first option would conclusively demonstrate you are just another System tool, as with most media.
Thank you Mendocino Voice! These are OUR children, OUR teachers and OUR community that needs to continue to SIP in order to get our numbers down. Only a Board who is out of touch with this reality makes a decision like this! Support Teachers for Safe and Healthy Schools for Students, Staff and Community!
Child molestors are proving less dangerous than COVID-19(84) cult members who want to create an entire cohort of permanently disabled children.
I’m not going to just sit here and stay silent as you kooks aim to literally injure children because of your hysteria.
These jerks hold a distance meeting yet plan for our kids to meet in person? Did you hear these fools talk? I’m not sure all of them ever went to school. To send your kid child to school now is pure madness!
I’m glad you volunteered to:
1) provide day care for the working parents of school-age kids;
2) provide alternative income to working parents who can’t work due to lack of child care;
3) provide lifelong mental health therapy for kids injured due to your hysteria.
Open the schools full time. The downside (?) isn’t close to the upside. Do you even consider what you are doing to these kids by jerking them around like this? They are strong, young and need the opportunity to succeed and to not be hindered by this scare tactic hindering them.
@tcrofoot In order for children to succeed, they need to be alive. Schools closed previously with no cases in our county and now (schools) are expected to open with cases rising and evidence now shows it effects children and when it doesn’t, they are often asymptotic carriers. Are you saying that you would be okay with even one child dying of Covid-19? You mentioned “the downside isn’t close to the upside” yet putting even one child at risk doesn’t seem like the answer to me. In addition, why should a teacher jeopardize their life? If they have 24 students (middle school and high school teachers can see as many as 160 students) they will be 24 times more likely to be exposed. And let’s say one teacher does get it, all 24 of their students will be quarantined and those 24 student’s parents, siblings, other close family members, etc. will have to be quarantined as well, being without work and pay for at least 2 weeks- if they are they lucky ones. Why would we put any person at risk when there is already a solution-distance learning. Distance learning will be occurring in many counties throughout the state and country and will allow students to learn and teachers to teach in safe environments, where they will only be exposed to people within their household.
In order for life to have meaning, human beings must have REAL social interaction on an ongoing (preferably daily) basis. “Life” without living is not life.
If you really are a teacher, you’ve sure got your union talking points down. Are you hysterical, or do you just want to have a longer paid vacation?
The damage to children’s social and mental development is obvious and profound. That damage far exceeds the rational risk from SARS 2 Your refusal to accept that marks you as either a fool or a sociopath. If you think so-called “distance learning” is suitable for everyone, you are obviously lacking in understanding of human development. I say this as someone who works in IT, and did my Master’s program all-online. I can function just fine with online education – the majority of people, especially kids, CANNOT. I’ve seen it up close and personal. Online is a substitute, not a replacement.
I am happy for my child to be going back to school since they need that social interaction and structure. I am willing to take risks because if we let this virus win and do everything that is required who knows what our mental health conditions will be like. I haven’t stopped working since this pandemic started and it’s extremely hard to be working full time, being a parent and a teacher.
God bless you and your kid! Rational analysis tells us that your child will be fine. And be sure that your child knows why they were denied months of social interaction with their friends/peers already – compliments of government and “experts.” A good lesson for them to ALWAYS question what they’re told.
I can no longer laugh at the lunacy of “educators” who hysterically shriek about “the virus, the virus,” since the permanent injury to our nation’s kids simply is not funny. I view any “educational professional” who advocates further suppression of childrens’ social development in the same light as a child molestor; the latter often does less damage.
The hybrid model is a good compromise, allowing kids at least some essential social interaction – real social interaction, not crap online – with their friends/peers. Alas, the Lysenko “scientists” want to further dehumanize schoolkids with the COVID-19(84) excuse. As many pediatricians have pointed out – if you need an “expert” to tell you what should be obvious to someone with an IQ above room temperature – children’s FACE-TO-FACE social interaction is essential, nearly as much so as food. The risk of contracting SARS 2 simply is far, far less risk than creating a permanently socially- and mentally-disabled cohort of kids. [or is that what these “experts” actually want?].
Class-Action lawsuit against school board covidiots!!!
Wow I have been reading the back and forth here in UUSD and it really reminds me of what is going on down here in SOCAL. I lived in Ukiah, but that was in the 80’s and even back then I found the school board to be somewhat removed from reality. This takes the cake.
In Orange County our school board did the same run around. However, the various school districts were independently allowed to decide to resume school online, for now. The numbers are staggering, the contagion is extreme. If all of the kids are ok but contagious what happens to their adults when they bring this disease home? How are the kids taken care of then? One must remember that this is a temporary situation with vaccinations looking promising within the next year. We can all hold out just a little while longer.
Death is a forever thing, a year of wobbly education won’t kill anyone. For those of you who deny science in the name of religion, you simply aren’t taking God’s gifts and using them in an intelligent manner. Stop being such idiots! We are smart and we have ways of temporarily getting around this virus, we need to use them. Distancing is the only answer. Listen to the experts not the jr. grade politicians on the school board. They are not experts. Listen to the medical experts, not your political leanings that can end up killing people.
I loved Ukiah and wish everyone the best as I will be watching closely what happens here, with my our teacher parents of our 8 year old granddaughter, all attending different school districts. When you think of tracking down every possible contagious person all three of these people will be exposed to if school resumes in person this Fall, and then bringing it home to us grandparents? It’s quite daunting. Not the way to do this. Simply said, the more times you are exposed the bigger likelihood that you will not be able to fight off the virus and you will become very ill. This is not a joke.
My friend who works at the local mortuary says she has never seen anything like this and it scares her to death. That’s a lot for someone to say who faces the dead every day.
The people mentioning science seem to be very ignorant of it. Public Health is highly nuanced and can not be reduced to any particular germ. As for the data, children are not vectors of covid nor are they at risk. 56% of deaths are in .06% of the population, and data shows 99% of us are not at serious risk from covid. Children have basically ZERO risk of serious complications, and very few cases of transmission to adults – according to science. The risk from opening schools is so low in comparison to the risks of excessive screen time for children, violence, depression, anxiety, and so many other public health concerns nobody discusses because it seems those with the loudest voices do not have these problems in their personal lives. They have the luxury to stay home, and no doubt even enjoy their taxpayer funded home vacations.
It seems those in favor of closing schools are elderly or families who have the privilege of multi-generational support structure. They should continue to shelter in place to protect vulnerable family members. But not everyone is as fortunate to have grandparents in the home to help with the children. It seems they are enjoying this crisis for their own selfish reasons but also relish the opportunity to virtue signal about how they are doing it because they are good people.
Yes, I agree with “crazy” man that the damage, mental and physical, from lockdowns is unknown and likely significant, especially when you consider many children at sensitive period in their social and cognitive development, and the working families who are ill-equipped and struggling to cope.
Personally I have had to return to a partner I had left due to violence and mental illness. Covid does not pose a threat to me but my living situation does. Project Sanctuary has been locked down and the social workers still haven’t gotten back to me about resources. They get paid regardless of why happens to me so here I am weeks later without any update about what I can do. I have offered to take out a loan against my property to pay for another place to live, and even that is impossible due to Coronavirus insanity. I am not at risk from covid and my parents and grandparents are dead, so I have no “at risk” people in my life to be concerned about infecting. For financial reasons I am now isolated with someone I was literally just in the process of breaking away from, and considering suicide since I already was diagnosed with PTSD and struggling mentally when this happened.
If you are afraid of the virus by all means stay home. Especially if you have your pension and SSDI directly deposited into your account and can order everything you need from your cozy home. Life is great for YOU. But as for the young and healthy who are not at risk from covid our lives have been thrown away for your empty virtue signaling about “keeping the community safe”. Safe from what? Look at what is killing people, especially young people, in the US right now. It’s not covid. How are you keeping the 99% of us not at risk from covid safe? I see you people out with your masks, even outside, you are very virtuous people. But you don’t even make eye contact with me as you go by.
Everyones immune system and living situation is unique. Covid is not the biggest threat most of us face, by far. And your personal fears should not be used to impose damage on the rest of us who have much bigger threats to face in our lives. Your virtue signaling is empty because you are imposing restrictions that are convenient for you, and help you feel better, but you have no empathy for the lives being destroyed by your hysteria.