Protesters ask Santa Clara school officials for safer reopening

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — Parents and teachers in Santa Clara County are protesting what they say is a rush to reopen schools.

Protesters on Wednesday morning claim schools are reopening without proper safety precautions.

Sarah Gianocaro, who works as an occupational therapist in a Santa Clara County school, says they are asking for additional health and safety training, adequate staffing in classrooms and allowing continued telework for some staff.

Sarah Gianocaro, Santa Clara Unified School District staff

She works with students with disabilities. One of her students who has autism has had challenges with distance learning, so Gianocaro says they do not have an issue specifically with opening classrooms.

“We definitely want our students to be back in person, we understand they need to be there. But we believe it could be done better than what we’re doing now,” Gianocaro said.

She says it’s trickier for special education students, while general education students have an easier time with online learning. Protesters want to make sure students and staff returning to school won’t be in danger of contracting coronavirus or spreading it to household members.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education said it has been working closely with the county’s health department for its reopening plans. The office gave KRON4 the following statement:

Students with disabilities have been eligible for a return to in-person services since September under the California Department of Public Health’s cohorting guidance for students with disabilities, and schools have been eligible to reopen to in-person instruction since the move into the Red Tier in September.  Staff have worked diligently on plans for a slow, gradual and careful offering of in-person instruction in strict adherence to the CDPH guidelines and the SCC Public Health Guidelines. Less than 10% of SCCOE students have returned to in-person instruction. 

Schools provide students and families with access to support and services, some of which cannot be provided with virtual learning. It is vital that students who require programs and services that must be delivered in-person, have access to in-person learning and essential supports. With this in mind, we have been engaged in a slow and gradual pathway to return to in-person instruction, taking all necessary steps to accomplish this goal with staff and student safety top of mind.

Santa Clara County Office of Education

The district outlines its reopening planning and priorities on its website.

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