Frustrated Pasadena residents, parents push City Council to reopen schools for in-person instruction

PASADENA, Claif. (KABC) -- A group of Pasadena parents and other residents shared a common message with Pasadena City Council: Reopen schools now to in-person instruction.

Multiple letters were read during a special council meeting Monday.

"This is no longer about COVID. It's about mismanagement," wrote one resident. "Get your act together and do your jobs."

"Three-hundred-thirty days behind a computer, not learning, no social interaction, slipping behind peers that have not stopped in-person learning." A letter went on. "Mental health crisis...rising."

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Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo acknowledged the stress of the restrictions.

"The important thing for me is to recognize how much kids are struggling and families in this environment, to be denied, prevented I should say, the opportunity to be in class, participate with their friends and schoolmates," said Gordo.

Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh said in order to reopen grades K-6, the county needs to reach a threshold of 25 per 100,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for five days. The figure currently stands at 38 per 100,000 cases. But Goh says she is hopeful that the threshold will be met soon.

"If we continue to trend downward and I hope people keep following the guidelines so we keep trending downward, I expect that we could be there in a week or two," said Goh.

For middle and high schools to reopen, the Pasadena Area School Heads (PASH), the heads of Pasadena area independent schools, is asking that the mandated stable cohorts be modified or eliminated. One of the issues is that students need to interact with multiple teachers throughout the day.

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While most Southland schools remain empty during the pandemic, one elementary school is full of students -- but they're not there to attend class.

A letter from PASH reads in part:

"We would like to affirm our position that mandating stable cohorts for middle schools and high schools is impracticable and would effectively preclude our middle and high schools from reopening our campuses for in-person instruction once L.A. County enters Tier 2 (Red Tier). "

L.A. County remains in the purple most restrictive tier, with widespread transmission of the virus.

Councilmember Tyron Hampton said if parents want their children to return to class they should be allowed to do so.

"There just hasn't been enough information for me to say, after a year, to say that we should continue to keep our schools closed," said Hampton.

In an answer to parents who would like Pasadena - with its own health department - to ignore state guidelines, Councilmember Felicia Williams said: "We could just go against what the state says and we could do what we want and come up with a different set of rules. But in that case, we won't get certain federal and state reimbursement, so I think people should know that."

City Council is expected to discuss the issue of reopening schools at a joint meeting with school district officials on March 1.

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