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State Senator Melissa Melendez discusses reopening schools

All three local school districts will soon begin the new school year with online learning. but State Senator Melissa Melendez, who represents the Coachella Valley, recently tweeted:

Melendez spoke with News Channel 3's Peter Daut to discuss more about her disagreements with how Governor Newsom and the state democrats have handled the pandemic.

"Well you know I understand that this pandemic has taken us all by surprise. It's not something we've all dealt with before, so it changes as we go and I understand that, but I do think there have been some missteps along the way, particularly with the closing of the schools and not allowing them to reopen for in-person classroom setting. That has a lot of people very upset, a lot of the students very stressed out about it. I have three of my own kids, out of my five kids, three are still in the K-12 system, and you know a lot of us are trying to figure out how exactly we are going to do this. But really the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both said that kids need to go back to school and they need to go back in person, that it's okay, they can and they should, and of course, there are certain protocols that should be put in place, obviously to protect everyone, but that it really is necessary that kids go back to school and that's one of the most disappointed most recently is the fact that schools are not going to reopen," Melendez said.

Melendez says she would feel comfortable with having her children return to classrooms right now.

"My daughter works at a grocery store, one of my other sons he delivers pizza, so they are in an environment every day where they are coming into contact with a lot of people. They had been fine. So, for me, I look at it and think that well if it is safe for her to work in a grocery store, why is it not safe for her to go into a classroom setting. And again I think if there are some hotspots, then we should take extra precautions, maybe perhaps a reconsideration, but for a blanket rule for the entire state to go to distanced learning I think is a huge mistake, because not only it will affect their intellectual development, but their mental health status as well. A lot of these kids are really struggling as well as family members struggling to accommodate their students," Melendez said.

Peter Daut then asked Senator Melendez whether she was concerned that children can become carriers of the virus and possibly infect older family members, teachers and staff at schools.

"Yes, in the beginning, I was very concerned, but obviously because I have kids in school, the research through the data and the science that we are seeing from the medical professionals is saying that kids are at a very low risk of contracting this virus. In fact in Riverside County, we have had 0 deaths of anybody in the age of 17 and under, 0 deaths from this virus. Some have contracted it, that's true, but by and large not nearly like it is for the older population," Melendez said.

Melendez continued, "Now, as far as them being a carrier, again these same medical professionals are not seeing evidence that they are transmitting the virus. Not only are they at low risk of getting the virus, it seems based on what we have so far that they're not really transmitting it, not to say that they can't ever, but we're not seeing it on a widespread scale. I guess I feel like there's a fear factor involved here that is a little over the top and that is why people are so anxious and stressed about this. I certainly understand from the adult point of view of not wanting their child to come home with that virus and give it to them. They may be more susceptible state, but if schools were allowed a hybrid type of environment, where there is a student who feels I don't just feel too comfortable going back into the classroom setting, then perhaps they can do some distanced learning or some mixture, but not make this the rule for the entire state of California and for all students. I think we can find a middle ground."

The topic then moved onto to Melendez's disagreements with many of the restrictions affecting businesses.

"It seems like the big businesses, the corporations, are really doing fine. Through all of this, it's the small businesses, it's the mom and pops, it's the ones that don't have a corporate headquarters who are being closed, and a lot of them I don't think they can reopen. They simply can't afford it, there isn't enough money out there to keep them afloat, they don't have a corporation that can help them survive and I'm very concerned about that," Melendez said. "I think what happened with closing the salons and bars and restaurants and things like that kind of came out of nowhere. I recognize that we've seen an upward trend in California, but I'm not seeing the science or the data say it's coming because of salons were open or because of bars were open, the question for me is, I'm certainly willing to consider any evidence they show but we just haven't seen it yet, so why is this virus spreading? That's why no one can really answer."

Melendez addressed those who think she it's taking the virus seriously enough,

"Oh gosh, well that's not true. I mean, I wear my mask just like everyone else, I wash my hands, I keep my distance because, again, those are measures are not 100%, they're not foolproof, but they can help. So, if there's something I can do that can help prevent me from getting the virus, then I'm going to do it. But, I think that people need to try to move on with their lives. Try to get back to normal as much as possible and not be so gripped by fear that we allow the state to shutdown for god only knows how long," Melendez said. That again, the mental health aspect of that not just on the kids but also the adults, is really very troubling. We are seeing an increase in substance abuse. We're going to be seeing an increase in suicides. We've certainly seen an increase in domestic abuse, not to mention the kids who are in a home right now where school is the only safe place where they're in a house with somebody who perhaps is sexually abusing them. Now they can't go to school so they are trapped, literally trapped in their home or women who are with an abusive spouse who are trapped in their home. So this has far reaching effects, beyond just the economy because I don't think it's fair to reduce it to just dollar signs, this is really a pandemic that has affected all aspects of our lives."

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