Santa Clara County office of education and health department push to keep schools open

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The Santa Clara County Office of Education and the County Public Health Department released a joint statement Friday evening arguing for keeping schools open and not reverting to distance learning while the omicron variant increases.

The statement recalls that as of June 30, 2021, school districts can no longer offer distance or virtual learning instead of in-person instruction. This was the date the distance education law expired in the state of California.

In a video message, Santa Clara County Public Health Director Dr Sara Cody stressed, as times seem uncertain, that it is time for us to learn to “coexist” with the coronavirus.

“The good news is that the cases we are seeing of omicron are milder than previous COVID cases. We have also learned that we need to find ways to coexist and live with COVID. We have learned a lot from the previous two years.” , Cody mentioned.

County officials argue that students learn best among their peers and with access to school resources.

“The safety of our students, staff and families remains our top priority,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, County School Superintendent. “We are working alongside our school districts to protect in-person learning and enforce appropriate security protocols.”

This may not be a compelling argument for teachers who have organized “absences” for their safety concerns with the school district‘s COVID protocol. They demanded adequate PPE in classrooms, such as N95 masks. Health experts have widely urged people to upgrade their masks because the new variant is so contagious.

Yet there is now growing evidence that keeping children in classrooms is beneficial. A partial data set released by the California Department of Education on Friday shows student test scores and graduation rates have declined during the pandemic.

“Distance learning does not promote the mental health, emotional health, and academic well-being of students the way face-to-face learning does,” said Dr. Cody.

You can watch Dr. Cody’s full comments here.

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