The governor made it clear, most of California will begin the next school year online-only. But for many parents, his plan to avoid a crisis at school creates a different kind of crisis at home.
“Schools must provide meaning learning in the state of California, it’s simply non-negotiable," he Governor Gavin Newsom said.
As schools across the state try and plan for a safe way to educate students at a distance, parents like Jennifer Fowler are feeling like there are no good options left.
“I don’t have high expectations,” she said. “I’m more worried than positive.”
Fowler was one of thousands of struggling parents who listened as the governor outlined what will have to happen to get students back to school in so called “watch list counties” like the one she lives in.
“We all prefer in-classroom instruction,” Newsom said. “We all prefer in-classroom instructions for all the obvious reasons; social and emotional foundations. But only if it can be done safely."
Fowler’s son and daughter are students at Mountain View Whisman school District schools and she says the all-virtual school days ahead present a very big problem for her family.
She says her and her husband both have to work and they can’t be monitoring their kids at home full-time.
That may be especially challenging for their son — who often struggles to focus.
“He kind of needs somebody to keep him on task,” she said. “He kind of, ‘oh, there’s a squirrel over here!’ and he kind of goes off. With being on distance learning, it was, ‘okay, my teacher’s on this screen but I can open a tab and I can go on Youtube and I can watch something and the teacher doesn’t know.’”
Meanwhile, Fowler’s daughter has vision problems and says a lot of screen time could damage her eyes to the point where she may need surgery.
“I’m just worried about being virtual, sitting in front of a screen for six hours, is going to keep making the situation worse with her eye,” she said.
Fowler doesn’t take issue with any of the governor’s mask or social distancing requirements in classrooms and would even be okay with a shorter school day.
“The school day should just be from 8 until 12,” she said.
But like thousands of others, really needs that day to include a real classroom, instead of a virtual one.