A group of student and parent demonstrators met outside of Cloverdale High School on Feb. 17 to show support for reopening schools. Signs being held by demonstrators emphasized the toll that extended distance learning has had on student mental health, and mentioned prioritizing students over teachers unions.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous studies have found that social isolation coupled with the stress of living during a pandemic has worsened the mental health of students who, in a normal year, would regularly be engaging face-to-face with classmates and teachers.

In recent days, members of the community have expressed frustration over the idea that demands from the Cloverdale teachers union are prolonging the back-to-school process. In interviews both with the district superintendent and with the teachers association, both said that union negotiations weren’t contributing to the district’s decision to start hybrid learning after the county is in the red tier.

One of the greatest factors preventing the district from trying to send students in TK-6 grade back is the cost of facilitating its own COVID-19 testing, which is required by the state for districts who go back while their county is still in the purple tier. An additional barrier to reopening is completing and figuring out a new set of plans and paperwork, as required by state and local health officials, which need to be approved if the district tries to reopen while the county is still in the red tier.

The rally was held shortly before the Cloverdale Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting was scheduled to begin. While the meeting is held over Zoom, the board trustees and district superintendent participate in the meeting from a classroom on the Cloverdale High School campus.

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