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Orcutt Union School District families protest delayed reopening decision
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Orcutt Union School District families protest delayed reopening decision

From the What you need to know for Thursday, October 22 series
  • Updated

Around 30 parents and children from the Orcutt Union School District rallied on Wednesday afternoon to protest the district's recent decision to continue distance learning through January. 

The group gathered at the corner of Clark Avenue and Bradley Road at 4 p.m., holding signs and banners with messages like "Home is not school" and "Reopen OUSD." Some children held signs saying "I miss my friends."

Although K-12 schools in Santa Barbara County were officially permitted to reopen Oct. 13, Orcutt and several other public school districts decided against bringing back students just yet due to local COVID-19 case rates that outpace the rest of the county. 

Orcutt Union officials also expressed concerns about the liability they could face if a teacher or student were to contract COVID-19 onsite, a situation that is not currently covered by district liability insurance. 

Parents and students from the Orcutt Union School District rally

Holding signs and banners, parents and students from the Orcutt Union School District gathered on Clark Avenue in October to protest the district's decision to remain in distance learning despite schools being permitted to open by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. 

Sara Shiffrar, a protest attendee whose three children attend Orcutt Union schools, said she doesn't understand why the district won't resume in-person learning when the majority of private schools have embraced the option.

"The trend right now seems to be that if you can't afford to or don't go to private schools, then your child can't go back. It creates a huge inequity and it's illegal," she said. 

Pamela Blythe, another district parent and one of the organizers of the rally, was also bothered by the contrast between private and public schools. 

"Our district has come up with a safe plan that they created back in July, and the whole plan was to get kids back in the classroom," Blythe said. "If [going back] is safe for private schools, then what's wrong with the plan our district created?" 

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