With the CDC releasing new recommendations for school reopening, a local school district has now set a date for kids to come back to class.
Murrieta Valley Unified School District is hoping to open its elementary schools by mid-March, but it all depends on Riverside County’s COVID-19 case rate.
"It's just sad that his entire first year of kindergarten has been pretty much ruined," said Brandon Jenkins.
Jenkins is talking about his five-year-old son Oliver who has been distance learning during the pandemic.
"It's definitely affected his development. He's a little behind in reading and writing," he added.
He also believes his nine-year-old daughter Abigail is struggling. In part because she doesn't have in-person interaction with her teachers.
"I think the teachers are doing everything they can, you know? There's only so much you can do when you are only dealing with your students through a screen," Jenkins said.
Thursday night, Murrieta Valley Unified School District sent out an email informing parents that elementary schools could reopen on a hybrid schedule as early as March 16th, as long as Riverside County's COVID-19 adjusted case rate continues to fall to less than 25 per one hundred thousand people.
Kimberly Chevlin is the president of the Murrieta Educators Association, which is the teacher's union.
"March 16th should only happen if the metrics state that it's going to be safe to do that," she said.
Chevlin says the school district and the union have been working closely on a safety plan for months.
"Our teachers are ready to go back with COVID-19 safety plans the district has," she added.
Just like the new CDC guidelines released Friday, the district’s safety strategies include face coverings, washing hands, sanitizing and social distancing.
Chevlin says school nurses must also play a vital role.
"They are the experts on public health and safety, and we should rely on their guidance for opening safely," she said.
Some school districts, including Moreno Valley Unified are sticking with distance learning throughout the rest of this school year.
Chevlin says she is confident Murrieta Valley can reopen safely.
"I will say there are going to be bumps in the road, it's not going to be smooth like glass. It's going to be bumpy," she said.
Bumps or no bumps, Jenkins says he'll just be glad his kids can go back to school.
"I think they have to be in front of the teachers and that's a huge part of their development, as well as being around the other kids and learning from the other kids."