While schools within California county watch list eye distance learning, some parents aren't so sure

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- While the Governor Gavin Newsom's announcement on schools remaining closed in counties on the state's COVID-19 watch list was expected, the prospect of distance learning still elicited strong reactions from parents and from teachers.

"It's starting to resonate. I can't do this for the entire semester or a couple of months on my own," Marissa Cowan, a single mom in Martinez said.

Jonathan Alloy, father of a 7 and a 9-year-old in San Francisco said, "We are very supportive of schools being virtual, but there isn't consideration for what working parents are going to do. Working parents can't teach and elementary school kids can't be on zoom every day for six hours by themselves."

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It's a dilemma hitting close to home.

Some working parents who can afford to are already hiring a caregiver to supervise kids in multifamily pods. Others have orchestrated family co-ops like this single mom with a kindergartner.

"Each of us takes a day to support the academics and also provide some sort of enriching activity in the afternoon and allow our kindergartners to get social interaction, which is so important and they are not getting right now," Cowan said.

Some parents asked, in order to address equity and access, if virtual education could be reimagined? Could some teachers teach curriculum online while others work with kids in small pods? Can community centers be utilized? It's all unknown territory.

RELATED: Everything to know about California's confusing coronavirus reopening plan

The president of the California Teachers Association says online connectivity is key. He wants the federal government to chip in.

He says teachers are happy to finally have guidelines to ramp up virtual classrooms in a less panicked way than in March.

President E. Toby Boyd emphasized "We have a little more time now, so we can truly plan and get what's needed to make sure our students are learning better than they were before."

"We are extremely relieved that safety and health of both students and teachers and staff appear to be the number one consideration," Suzanne Lima, Evergreen Teachers Assoc. President in the South Bay said. "And if we know it's not safe in the area we live in and the infection rate is high and going up as it currently is then I don't think it's worth it to risk a single life."

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