Angry North Bay Parents Use Electronic Billboard to Send Message to Reopen Schools

NBC Universal, Inc.

Angry North Bay parents are taking their message to reopen schools directly to the public, on an electronic billboard next to 101 in Sonoma County that’s hard to miss. 

They’re hoping the people running schools up there don’t miss the message. 

The electronic sign, shared with several other advertisers, says, “Missing: all California students, last seen March 13, 2020. Reward-their future. #OpenSonomaCountySchoolsNow."

“The campuses should be ready,” said parent Will Soper. “They have been empty for 11 months, there’s money on the table fully unused and there’s no excuse not to have a plan at this time.”

Soper has two children in Sonoma County public schools, and supports the message on this billboard, which is sponsored by Rally to Open Schools. A GoFundMe site has raised thousands to keep the message up there. Organizers say children are suffering and need to be at school five days a week.

Soper says millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief money is available to provide a safe reopening.

“I am not sure if it’s between the unions and the board of trustees or the administrators but it’s certainly not the teachers,” he said. 

School District Superintendent Mayra Perez says she understands the frustration but the protocols for reopening keep changing, between county public health, the state and the CDC, and add to that Sonoma county has been in the purple tier for 25 weeks. 

“We are working fast and furious to reopen our campuses for instruction,” she said. “We have installed 580 ventilation units to make sure your children are safe.”

Perez says the district has also spent money to insure safe distancing in classrooms, purchase materials so students don’t have to share, and set up on campus health screenings .

“We have been preparing the entire time and our campuses will be open shortly,” she said, adding there’s one more hurdle for school districts -- meeting the goal of vaccinating every teacher before on campus learning begins again.

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