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California School Districts Face Uncertain Road To Reopening

DANVILLE (KPIX 5) -- No one knows what school is going to look like when and if it reopens in the fall, and the guidelines released by the state schools superintendent Monday are raising more questions than answers.

After three months in lockdown, Carly Juroff can't wait to join her friends on the volleyball team at San Ramon Valley High School. But the guidelines announced by the State of California for reopening in-person classes don't sound like the campus life she's been hoping for.

"I'm scared that I'm not going to get a real high school experience because I'm never going to get these years back," said Juroff.

The guidelines from state Superintendent Tony Thurmond spell out in detail the new procedures, from everyone wearing masks and getting their temperatures checked before entering campus, to protocols for social distancing that may require that students only be on campus two days a week.

"We're taking the approach that, as schools plan to reopen, that they should plan to open under the most safe conditions that we have information for," Thurmond said.

But many parents feel they're in limbo.

"They need some ideas of what is this going to look like to make some plans. I mean, it's not sustainable forever," said Jen Juroff, who has three kids in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.

And school districts aren't sure what to think, either. Berkeley Unified has already said it is planning for remote learning and San Francisco Unified said in a statement:  "We are all eager to have answers so that families, students and staff can make plans and know what to expect to the greatest extent possible."

The problem is the state says the guidelines are not mandates, that districts are free to develop their own plans.  But Troy Flint with the California School Boards Association says that's just a ploy to avoid giving schools the money they need to comply with the guidelines.

"What the state is saying is, 'Here is what you need to do to keep kids safe when you go back to school but we're not going to provide you with the means to do it,'" he said. "So, it's almost like school districts are being set up to fail."

Some parents think it's still too dangerous to go back at all, while others, like Jen French who has three kids in San Ramon schools, are so turned off by online schooling that they feel it is a bigger threat to their children than Covid-19.

"I don't want to live afraid," she said.  "I would rather have my kids live a life than live a life afraid."

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