The heated debate around valley children's school year continued Thursday evening – as the Coachella Valley Unified School District board decided students will start the year using distance learning at home.
The start of CVUSD's school year is approaching on August 13. Coachella Valley Unified is the third and final district to decide not to bring students back to school amid the pandemic.
Both Palm Springs Unified and Desert Sands Unified school districts have also decided to start the school year online, and potentially transition to a hybrid learning model in which students would split their time between home and school.
All three district's board's votes were unanimous.
Carissa Carrera, president of the Coachella Valley Teacher's Association, said online learning is the safest approach as cases coronavirus continue to rise, particularly in the east valley.
"The guidelines right now are that everybody has to wear a mask; that we should be socially distancing – and our classrooms don't allow for that," Carrera said. "Schools are social environments, so to expect (students) to be socially distanced at all times, whether its in the hallway, on the playground, at lunch – that's going to be pretty tough."
Carrera said teachers naturally want to return to the classroom once it is safe, but it all depends on the public health conditions.
In all three districts, parents have expressed concern about the online learning and how it was executed last spring.
At Thursday's CVUSD board meeting, concerns were discussed about the digital technology students would use at home.
The district said every student will be given an iPad and those without internet access at home can have a WiFi hotspot.
But district officials said many of the iPads are out of date and need updating.
And there are still issues to be worked out – including whether or not teachers will work from home or in their classrooms. Some teachers spoke out saying heading back to school could increase their risk of exposure.