UPDATED 1:05 PM PT – Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Local residents in northern California were divided over a billboard that called for public schools to reopen. The billboard looked similar to an Amber Alert and read “missing all California students, last seen on March 13, 2020.”
The board was put up by a group of local advocates in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco along California’s famous Highway 101. Its message split residents as some agreed with the push to return to in-person learning and others thought the wording went too far.
An electronic billboard along Highway 101 in Rohnert Park that went up last weekend reading “Missing All CA Students, last seen 3/13/2020” has become instantly controversial. https://t.co/rReTxkOXVm pic.twitter.com/wYFGK6wUGU
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 16, 2021
The Sonoma County School District superintendent said it’s difficult to get schools prepared for in-person learning. However, some schools could hold in-person classes for grades K-6 starting early March with an approved COVID-19 safety plan.
As coronavirus cases in California declined, the potential to reopen became a possibility although much of the state remained under strict lockdown orders. This week, Los Angeles County hit the threshold to allow elementary schools to reopen after the transmission rate hit 25 cases or less for every 100,000 people in the county.
LA County has officially reached the State’s threshold for reopening elementary schools.
Starting tomorrow, schools can reopen for grades K-6 if they have a waiver or submitted their COVID Safety Plans in advance.
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) February 16, 2021
It is unclear, however, if doors will reopen as some districts said they don’t think they should return to in-person learning until teachers and staff are vaccinated. In Los Angeles County, teachers and those under 65-years-old are not currently eligible to receive the vaccination yet.
“Making schools a priority also means vaccinations for all who work in schools,” Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “California is providing vaccinations for cannabis delivery drivers, but not school bus drivers and teachers.”
Parents in Los Angeles made their voices heard while caravaning through downtown Los Angeles this week, demanding schools be reopened. On Monday, reports said the new CDC guidance would keep many schools in the state closed.
According to critics, the fact the CDC used transmission rates to determine the guidelines ignored data, which showed students are safer in schools where they can follow safety procedures.
On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) said he was still working to reach a reopening deal with legislators and school groups. Last week, he indicated that a deal could be reached, but called negotiations “stubborn” and said there was “still work to do.”