Newport Beach parents frustrated without direction for in-person learning

The district says it is finalizing plans for its modification in-person plan and has communicated regularly with parents.
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Despite a new set of state guidelines, parents in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District are reaching a boiling point. After a week of distance learning, they say the district needs to move forward with a plan and start date for in-person learning.

"People are becoming increasingly frustrated because the indefinite aspect of all of this is quite challenging for the kids and for the parents to just not really know when the date will be," said Newport Beach resident Andrea Meehan, who has children at Mariners Elementary.

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"We know we're gonna go back at some point, so there should be a concrete plan in place and we don't feel like there is anything set yet," said Newport Beach resident Carlene Stauff, who also has children at Mariners.

"We're not getting that kind of agreement in place and I feel like we need to get there quickly," said Newport Beach resident Nick P., who says he decided to pull his son out of school for homeschooling due to too much variability seen in the district.

The district says it is finalizing plans for its modification in-person plan and has communicated regularly with parents. An official said: "The preparation and implementation of all systems related to the transition back to in-person instruction is underway. We all want our students back physically on campus with the safety protocols in place and look forward to a reopening date to be set."

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Meanwhile, school board president Martha Fluor wrote: "While we understand our parents' desire to get their students back to school as quickly and safely as possible, we also must work within the new guidelines and our employee representative groups."

Under the state's new guidelines, Orange County is in the purple tier where schools are not allowed to reopen for in-person learning, unless they've received a waiver. The county also has to stay in this tier for 3 weeks before moving forward. And in order to move forward, the county has to meet the next tier's criteria for two consecutive weeks. But since Orange County was already off of the state's watch list when the new guidelines were reached, the county health officer is trying to get clarification on possible immunity or credit. In the meantime, these parents just want their voices heard.

"I think the majority, they want their kids back in school and I think the district knows that and they just are trying to figure out a way that is workable with the state. I think there's a disconnect between the parents and what they want and what the state wants," said Costa Mesa resident Michelle Feldman, who has three children at Mariners.

"I think that it should be all or nothing. I think every single child should have the opportunity to go to school with proper precautions in place," said Meehan.

"For us, it's an easy solution. If my kids are not in class next week, it's see ya, peace out. Hello private school," said Newport Beach resident Scott Lea, who has children at Anderson Elementary and Corona del Mar Middle School.

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