By Raiza Giorgi


Parents were given the news that the school year will begin as distance learning in Santa Barbara County as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday, that all counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list must begin the school year this fall with remote classes.

“It is with regret that I inform you that our plans for reopening with students on campus are suspended at this time,” said Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Superintendent Scott Cory in a letter to parents.

The district was planning to come back with a hybrid model with half of students on campus at a time. He did say the staff have learned a lot about distance learning even in the month and a half since school got out, and teachers and staff will provide rigorous, interactive and engaging lessons that are accessible to all of our students.  

“We have been, and will continue to, work hard to provide the best educational experience possible,” Cory stated.

He also shared with the Star the results of a recent parent poll done asking if they wanted their kid on campus or if they preferred distance learning. There were 356 responses with roughly 60 percent back at school and 40 percent preferred distance learning and/or independent learning. The more than 197 responses in writing are all over the spectrum of wanting their kids back on campus to they don’t want their kids on campus for various reasons and legitimate fears, Cory said.

“When we come back we must and will do better with distance learning, and simultaneously how to best roll out a phased in process to get kids on campus,” he added. 

For schools that are allowed to reopen and when restricted schools can open there will be strict guidelines in place. Some of those guidelines are having staff and students in the 3rd grade and higher wear masks. Face coverings for younger children are encouraged but not required. Staff will also be required to maintain social distancing between each other and their students. Newsom said every school day will begin with temperature checks.

“I feel like there are so many layers to this and so many mixed emotions. With that said I do believe it is everyone’s goal to get our children back to school in a safe environment. Hopefully this will be a temporary situation and our kids can go back once our numbers change. I keep trying to find the positive in this. And keeping our children healthy and safe is, if not the most, important factor,” said Solvang School parent Lauren Iglesias. 

Other parents said this is not a balanced approach and this assumes that every student has a stable home/living location; internet connection; additional computer in the home, currently not being used; a present adult with the time and ability to facilitate and at an age/cognitive development to sit and learn in this environment.

“These are minimum requirements for success that many families in our state are unable to meet. We need to work on solutions that meet the needs of our communities and our teachers. There is a balanced approach and this isn’t it,” said Sarah Risley of Arroyo Grande, who has two children in Lucia Mar which announced even before Newsom’s decision to only distance. 
To see the complete guidance from the California Department of Public Health click here to see the PDF.