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'Robbed of their childhood' | California's new guidance means virtual learning for public, private schools

If your county is on the state watch list, it doesn't matter if your school is public or private — it will open with 100% distance learning.

STOCKTON, Calif. — Kimberly Blevins, 8, misses a lot about school.

"I miss everything. I miss art, music, recess, lunch," she said on a Zoom call from her backyard in West Sacramento.

Kimberly and her 4-year-old brother Cameron had the opportunity to attend either in-person or virtual learning at their Yolo County elementary school. That was until Governor Gavin Newsom issued new school guidance last Friday forcing public and private schools to begin the school year 100% virtually.

Kara Hannigan-Blevins, Kimberly and Cameron's mother, said the recent indecisiveness from state, local and school officials has been "exhausting."

"It gets stressful, and it makes me sad," said Hannigan-Blevins.

There is no difference for public and private schools when it comes to the state's guidance on the new school year. If a county is on the state's coronavirus watch list, then schools cannot do in-person instruction.

School districts in a counties not on the watch list can reopen physically, but with safety protocols in place, like face coverings and social distancing.

"As a parent and governor, it is my hope and intention to get our kids back to school," Newsom said on Monday during a press conference. "This script has not been written, we have the ability to write it."

There is a caveat, however. A school can apply for a waiver to its county health department in order to be granted in-person learning. But cases must be trending down in order for a school to be considered.

For example, Bradshaw Christian School in Sacramento, home to about 1,200 K-12 students, sent out an email memo to parents last Thursday informing families that despite Sacramento County landing on the state's watch list, the school said it is "reaffirming our intent and decision to move forward" with in-person classes.

The school backed off after the governor released the new guidelines, but officials applied for a waiver soon after.

The school even purchased $300,000 in modular units to help with social distancing.

Now, it must wait.

Meanwhile, parents like Kara Hannigan-Blevins continue to wait, too.

"My kids, other kids, are getting basically robbed of their childhood," she said.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kurt Rivera.

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