North County parents sue to get kids back in class sooner

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CARLSBAD, Calif. — A lawsuit filed on behalf of 18 families is demanding the state government clear a path for students to go back to in-person learning as fast as possible.

The North County Parents Association — representing families from five districts — is leading the charge and says waiting for teachers to be vaccinated and for San Diego County to get back to the state’s red tier is asking too much.

Currently, middle and high schools cannot open in the region until reaching red, while elementary schools can only if they complete an application process with the state.

“We are not after money, we are just trying to get the schools open. So there is no financial penalty. We are not asking for monetary damages from anybody. We just want the state to provide flexible rules — stop making up new rules that are arbitrarily making our schools close,” said Scott Davison, an attorney assisting in the lawsuit. 

The complaint says isolation is leading to depression in their students and parents want to get their kids back with their peers. “I think after the fourth delay we experienced where they just continued to delay the opening date, we had to step in,” Davison said.

School leaders say they are working to get kids back in the classroom as quickly as possible while keeping students safe. The CDC has said vaccinating educators should be a top priority, but is not a prerequisite for reopening schools safely. Teachers can start getting vaccinated in the county on Saturday, and most local schools are aiming to allow students to return by mid-April.

In an email to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the state public health department said it cannot comment on the specifics of the suit because it hasn’t seen or been served the complaint.

“A top priority for Governor Newsom is getting students back at school for in-person instruction as safely and quickly as possible,” the department told the newspaper. “The Governor released a plan to do so in December, and the Administration is continuing discussions on the pace of reopening of schools with the legislature.”

A judge could hear the case in as little as three weeks. You can view the complaint here. You can read more about the state’s approach to school reopenings here.

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