In the Fall, the lack of conclusive public health data on in-person transmission of COVID-19 aligned with Pacifica School District’s decision to remain virtual. Now, however, there is overwhelming evidence that in-person learning with mitigations does not transmit COVID-19. This evidence comes from around the globe, from elsewhere in the United States, from other districts in the state, and from private and preschools locally.
In the beginning of this school year, we all accepted what we knew was right for the safety of our teachers and school staff, our students and our community. We did this despite the challenges with distance learning and the varying quality of that education (in some cases very little teaching that completely misaligned from what we expected with the Board’s communication around education required per grade level). But as parents who became teachers over the last year, we adjusted as much as possible, to fill the gap and teach our children so they could academically progress and have needed support for their social emotional development. Of course that hasn’t worked well, and is not an equitable system of education when we have parents who are frontline, essential workers; juggling work and home schooling; and struggling day to day to make ends which has intensified during this pandemic.
The public health evidence is so clear now, that there is simply no reason why the students at Pacifica School District cannot also benefit from in-person education, with the same mitigation best practices that have been used since last fall in districts that are bigger, or smaller, or more diverse, or less diverse, or with more per-pupil spend, or with less per-pupil spend. Even San Carlos School District, within our county’s border, has created a plan and begun returning its students to in person schooling. In our view, the only thing exceptional about Pacifica School District right now is its refusal to make evidence-based decisions that put our students’ interests, their education and their wellbeing first.
As parents, we have been accepting the decisions to date but are now taking a stand, and using an evidence-based approach to call on the Pacifica School District Board Members and Superintendent to:
- Follow the recommendation of the CDC, the Biden Administration, and Governor Newsom and set a date for a return to in-person learning this year, and commit to a five day per week in-person learning plan for the fall. Anything less is a refusal to heed science and data. As parents, we demand some transparency and clarity on a clear plan to returning to school for this academic year and next, so we can feel comfortable that our children’s education and well-being will be prioritized.
- If you feel you need more data from the community on what families want and need, field credible, representative surveys, and transparently publish the results. To date we have completed surveys on virtual schooling, but even there have not seen the results of those surveys, nor understood how they are influencing the decision making of the district.
- Consult with other districts that have transitioned back to a form of in-person learning. With models across the country and within the Bay Area, there are opportunities to engage with and learn from other districts about the return to school, and how it is working for the schools, the teachers, the children and their families.
The evidence is so clear now that we are putting our children first, and ask the district to finally communicate a clear date and plan to return to school for this academic year and next. Pacifica School District is indeed an extraordinary community of students, educators, staff, parents, and more — and it is a cornerstone of what is, truly, an exceptional community. It pains us greatly if we have to start the process of enrolling our child in charter schools, nearby public schools using schools of choice, or even private schools because Pacifica School District’s inability to follow science and prioritize the educational needs of children — the whole reason the district exists. Pacifica SD is where we want our children to be educated, but we cannot, as parents, wait any longer for Pacifica SD to catch up to the rest of the world on facts and leadership. In the weeks to come, we hope to see the collective leadership of this district take a different, more productive, and more creative approach to ensuring a return to school for our children.