Parents unhappy with Lakeside school district

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Schools throughout the East County, including Lakeside Union School District’s Lakeside Farms School, have closed their campuses through March in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19, a coronavirus that has caused a pandemic. Photo credit: Jessica Brodkin Webb

The Lakeside Union School District Board of Trustees gathered in person for a special meeting Oct. 22 where parents and community members gave feedback on the district’s commitment to remain in phase two of a tiered return to campuses as the district balances educational needs with the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although a handful of parents spoke in support of the ongoing closure, the majority said they are dissatisfied with the timeline for reopening.

Multiple speakers cited the single confirmed COVID-19 case in the district and said it does not justify a distance learning plan they believe sacrifices students’ mental health, ignores social-emotional growth and does not do enough to protect against academic slide.

Almost every parent who spoke at the meeting said they are grateful to teachers but think the district needs to progress through to full campus learning at a faster rate.

It has been over 225 days since students attended a full week of classroom instruction.

Sarah Pardue, a parent whose husband is an Intensive Care Unit nurse, said her family “takes this very seriously” because her spouse deals with COVID patients daily and advocated safety and containment protocols rather than keeping children home.

“Not one person in his unit has contracted the disease because they take precautions. It can be done,” Pardue said.

However, others said they believe the reason Lakeside has not seen an outbreak is due to severely limiting campus time and said they would rather have some campus presence than risk a full closure if an outbreak does occur. “My concern is if we open too soon we’ll boomerang back to being all the way closed,” said parent Erin Clark.

Board member Rhonda Taylor, who serves as a principal in Poway Unified School District where schools have half the children on campus in the mornings five days a week and the other half in the afternoon to halve campus presence said it has been “amazing to have students on campus again” but with San Diego county COVID cases on the rise, she too is worried about the possibility of opening Lakeside campuses only to have to close again if the county decides it is a community safety risk.

“I get that our neighboring district Santee is opening soon but many aren’t. I say let’s watch and see what happens,” Taylor said.