El Dorado County school district prepares for in-person learning, some teachers want to begin with distance learning

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EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — With the school year just a week away for Lakeview Elementary, third-grade teacher Laurisa Stuart is giving herself a crash course.

“I am trying to figure out how I can safely get my students in this classroom,” Stuart, who is also the president of the Rescue Union Federation of Teachers, told FOX40.

The Rescue Union School District in El Dorado County plans to welcome students back for in-person learning. Since the county is not on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list, they’re allowed to reopen with modifications.

“What I was trying to do was alternate the students, so that they at least have a desk in between them, but as you can see, it’s still not a ton of space,” Stuart said.

According to the district, they’re working closely with the public health department, making efforts to keep kids spaced out. All will be required to wear masks and wash their hands every hour, and sanitizing will be stepped up.

Parents have the option of sending kids in-person for a half-day, either in the morning or the afternoon or sticking with distance learning.

District Superintendent Cheryl Olson says this will allow them to keep class sizes between 10 and 15 students at a time. The district says of its 3,600 students, roughly 2,800 plan to return for in-person instruction.

“All of us really believe firmly that kids need to be in school,” Olson said. “They need that face-to-face interaction with their teachers. We know that we supply not only the educational but also social-emotional (needs).”

But the Rescue Union Federation of Teachers worries the precautions aren’t enough. They’ve started a letter-writing campaign calling to begin with distance learning for the first six weeks.

They would like to move to in-person instruction after COVID-19 numbers have shown a decrease over two weeks and testing capacity is increased, and teachers need better training to ensure safety.

“When I think about again looking at those parents and them trusting me with their babies, they’re their babies. I can’t look them in the face and tell them that this is safe,” Stuart said.

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