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Roseville Joint Union High School District opens for in-person instruction

High schools in Roseville, Granite Bay, and Antelope went back to fully in-person learning on Monday. Health experts say it could lead to 'surge upon surge.'

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Things were almost looking like normal times on Monday at Roseville, Granite Bay, and Antelope high schools as many students within Roseville Joint Unified High School District (RJUHSD) physically returned to their classrooms. 

Since October, students had been able to learn via the district's hybrid-learning model, which incorporated on-campus learning with distance learning. Back in December, RJUHSD decided on a five day a week, early-out model, where students are all on campus at the same time but are released early.

But despite the full parking lots and occupied classrooms, Aislinn Lachance said these are anything but normal times and she was not quite ready to send her son back to Antelope High School.

"It boggles my mind that in March we had maybe 100 cases in Sacramento and they closed all the schools down," Lachance said. "But now that the cases are astronomical, they're like, ‘No, send the kids back to school!’ It doesn’t make sense to me."

Most of her worries came down to the health of her family. Lachance's son has asthma, her mother has cancer, and she regularly cares for her 84-year-old grandmother. 

"School, we can fix that later," she explained. "We can’t fix it if someone dies. We can’t fix it if someone in our family gets lifelong complications from this virus."

ABC10 health expert Dr. Payal Kohli said while in-person learning is the best education option for most students, and she'd like to see kids going back to school, she does not recommend opening schools as long as COVID-19 cases continue to grow.

"We haven’t yet fully realized the impact of Christmas and New Year's Eve and all the travel that occurred," Dr. Kohli said. "It's really what Dr. Fauci calls 'surge upon surge upon surge' -- where we're making decisions based on data that's two weeks or more older, and we haven't quite realized the impact of our behavior in the last two weeks. So, we could be potentially layering on multiple things that could all come together."

Dr. Kohli said another concern is the new, efficiently-spreading mutant variant of the coronavirus, which she says, according to a UK study, is more likely to affect and spread among those 20 years old and younger. 

"Now we don’t know because of biological difference or because behavioral differences, but we certainly have to keep that in mind when we think about opening high schools, where obviously the contact is going to be high," she said. 

Roseville Joint Unified High School District has kept up with distance learning for parents and students like Lachance and her son who are hesitant about going back to campus. The district will continue to have the option until Jan. 29, 2021, unless it’s extended. 

"I don’t know how I’ll handle it on the 29th, you know?" Lachance said.

John Becker, the RJUHSD executive director of student engagement, explained in an email that, in November, families were given the opportunity to sign-up for in-person instruction or exclusive online instruction through the Roseville Virtual Learning Academy. He said about,1,500 students had enrolled in the virtual school and students would now be waitlisted for the program. 

Becker said the district would allow students to access their classes from home until Jan. 26, 2021, the board and district staff would then review whether or not they extend the at-home learning option.

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