FUSD Further Postpones Discussion Regarding School Reopening

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The Mercury News

Alameda County has returned to Purple Tier after just a month in Orange Tier under California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

On Nov. 12, the Fremont Unified School District was scheduled to discuss potential reopening plans for elementary school, middle school, and high school students after Alameda County had dropped down to the Orange Tier. The board decided to table reopening, however, until the next board meeting in early December in light of the prolonged SRO discussion. Just a few days later, on Nov. 16, Alameda County moved back to the Purple Tier along with many other countries across California.

After the SRO task force decision had been made, some of the board members discussed whether they should put off the reopening item until after Thanksgiving Break.

“We certainly are seeing an increase in cases,” said Superintendent CJ Cammack “and we want to be cognizant and aware of those things.”

In regards to schools reopening in the Fremont Unified School District, many students, parents, and teachers are against returning to in-person learning due to the staggering increase in cases. 

“It is really hard online to get to know kids,” said English teacher Mrs. Marsella Jensen. “But I just don’t see realistically with the facilities and the number of students we have how that would safely happen.. I don’t want kids getting sick. I have teacher friends who are older or are immunocompromised. I don’t want teachers dying. ”

Similarly, many students express the same concerns about returning to school during flu season and when COVID-19 cases are peaking. According to Lisa Maragakis, Senior Director of Infection Prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System, it is difficult to distinguish between the flu and COVID 19 because they have similar symptoms. It is also possible for someone to have both at the same time, which entails much more severe symptoms. Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that we may have a more severe flu season since less people are getting flu shots. 

“Some concerns I have in regards to going back to school is whether or not it will be safe to step foot on campus with so many other students and teachers who are not being directly tested for this virus through temperature checks, covid-19 test swabs, etc,” said an anonymous student (12). “I would personally choose distance learning rather than in-person learning because of how it is a matter of whether or not I would feel safe learning.”

As of Nov. 17, the California Department of Public Health reports that California has a total of over one million confirmed COVID-19 cases. Approximately 11 percent of those cases are adolescents ranging from ages 0-17, 60 percent are adults from ages 18-49, and 10 percent for the elderly above the age of 65. According to the CDPH, there are approximately 10,000 new cases and 60 deaths every day.

On Nov. 16, California governor Gavin Newson announced that 27 counties have moved to the Purple Tier, 9 counties have moved to the Red Tier, and 2 counties have moved to the Orange Tier. After the rapid increase in new cases, California is recommending more strict face covering guidelines.

“We are sounding the alarm,” said Governor Newsom. “The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”

The topic will be further discussed at the Dec. 16 board meeting, where students and parents will be able to make public comments about their opinions and the Board’s plan will become more clear.