Sherman R. Frederick
The Novato Unified School District Board of Trustees took withering criticism from parents who want their kids back to in-person school… now.
At the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 9, hundreds of families protested in front of the district’s offices with signs that read: “No More Zoom,” “Kids need to be back in School 5 Days a Week,” and “NUSD You Need to Unmute Your Mic.”
The board heard from 14 public speakers that night, all criticized the board. A few hammer the board for limiting their comments that night to 2 minutes instead of the usual 3.
“You are limiting our time on this important issue?” Ross said. Sam added that “It’s ridiculous that you’ve shorted our time. This is another example of how badly you’ve handled this whole situation.”
Sam, who identified himself as a local business owner, told the board that almost all the NUSD parents support the district and “I’m begging you not to kick this can down the road.” If you force us to choose between you and our kids, Sam said, “It’s going to be our kids every … single … time.”
Jen told the board that the failure to get students back into the classroom has become a women’s rights crisis.
“This has driven many women from the work force,” a statement backed up by speaker Collen who said “many women have left their jobs to support their children’s education.”
Colleen added that many families do not have that privilege.
Amy told the board that “We need to go back to school. My son is lonely. Zoom is not school.”
Another speaker told the board that the lack of transparency from the board makes it “feel like our kids are being used as a bargaining chip. The lack of transparency from the school board and the teacher union is maddening.”
Several speakers told the board that they have lost faith in the school district and they are putting their kids in private schools.
“I’m losing hope,” Amy told the board. Another speaker said “our kids are suffering. This is f-ing absurd.”
Paul added that “We’re at a breaking point. Parents are looking for alternatives to NUSD. NUSD will be looking a lot more than the 400 students that have already left the district.”
Jordan, a parent, said her husband is a teacher at Marin Catholic and he’s been back in the classroom since September. She told the board to “do your job.”
After the public hearing, all school trustees told staff that they want students back in the classroom as soon as possible.
Trustee Maria Aguila acknowledged that besides the protest and the speakers, trustees have been “bombarded” with email critical of the district.
Board Chair Ross Millerick said COVID-19 “is a big problem, complicated by a lack of clarity” from the medical community. “I’m more than frustrated by the lack of clear information.”
Superintendent Kris Cosca issued an update on the district’s website after the Feb. 9 meeting.
“At Tuesday night’s Board meeting, the Board revised the NUSD reentry plan for our flexible in-person students to align with current State guidance. The changes are as follows:
- Grades 7-8 will move to hybrid learning on February 22, 2021
- Grades 9-10 will move to hybrid learning five days after Marin County moves into the red tier and no earlier than March 1, 2021
- Grades 11-12 will move to hybrid learning one week after the return of grades 9-10.
“Additionally, in closed session, the Board directed staff to negotiate with our labor partners to explore what is working well for staff and students, what opportunities exist to expand and improve hybrid learning TK-12, and to explore what a full return to on campus learning could look like this spring.”
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