SRCS Board’s Handling Of Schools Since COVID-19 Shutdown

The Santa Rosa High School main building, which is usually crowded with students, is empty due to the pandemic. As infection rates go up, it is looking less likely that students will be going back to school anytime soon. The attitudes towards the district remain mixed, however, with the most prevalent one being uncertainty about the future. “There’s so much that’s unknown, so much that is subject to change. We have to be flexible,” said William Lyon, President of the Santa Rosa Teachers association.
Photo By: Max Parrish

Article By: Makayla Millea

Since schools were shut down for the first time back in March, the Santa Rosa City Schools District has had the responsibility to come up with an education plan that works for both students and teachers. Now more than ever, parents and teachers alike are anxious about both the present rules put in place and how the future is looking with the different proposed education models that are up in the air.

Overall, the general consensus from the teachers and staff is positive towards the district. However, many express that they’re more anxious about safety than anything. “The district and teachers and school board have been in unison about safety first,” said William Lyon, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association. Though the conversations and overall communication have been a bit messy, the district has so far made good decisions and have kept the students’ health as their top priority, which is relieving.

Many SRCS educators disagree with each other on how the hybrid model should work, and a few say that we shouldn’t even try doing the hybrid model because of health concerns and a lack of time to make content for those who are online. Because of the health concerns, the district has said that all learning will be online through December. “It’s not safe enough to go back in, and we don’t have the capacity to go back in,” said Lyon.

The district’s online model has its flaws though. About a third of students are not showing up for school, another third is showing up but not doing any work and forty percent of students have F’s according to Lyon. Though these problems are not exactly new to the district, the online model has exacerbated them to a point where it’s become very difficult to fix.

During these very difficult times, classified staff are being paid under minimum wage. This was addressed in one of the school board meetings in September, but nothing has changed for these workers as of October. According to Lyon, the lowest wage being given is $13.01, which is fourteen percent under Santa Rosa minimum wage (which is $15 an hour).

Many of the classified staff in the district have decided to quit, leaving a lot of schools without important staff members such as Janitors, substitute teachers, 1-on-1 aids, and medical aids. Schools are finding that they’re unable to fill these positions as well, since no one wants to work for the wages the district is offering. Considering reopening only makes the situation worse, as schools will need a lot of classified staff in order to ensure the students’ safety. Lyon said that he considers this situation a crisis. “It’s not going to be a crisis soon, it’s already a crisis right now,” he said.

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