Superintendent says school district will follow guidelines
Pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen in areas where COVID-19 is surging — just before school starts. Parents nationwide are examining school district policies to decide if they are safe enough.
Locally, districts are making decisions on masking, testing and vaccination.
Masks are required indoors at schools, per California Department of Public Health guidelines.
Some community members believe the Cold Spring School District in Montecito is bending the rule.
A statewide news outlet interviewed Superintendent Dr. Amy Alzina on her stance on masks, publishing quotes that can be perceived as lenient.
But Superintendent Dr. Alzina told the News-Press the single-school district is adhering to public health guidance.
“I’m not going to go rogue,” she said. “We’re going to continue to implement the health and safety guidelines.”
But she doesn’t plan on sending students home who aren’t wearing masks. Instead, the school offers its 195 students various choices, like potentially more comfortable masks.
And if a student can’t keep a mask on, the class may move outside or switch the student to a seat by an open exterior door, Dr. Alzina said.
“We’re continuing to do what we’ve always done,” she said. “If a student is struggling to wear their mask, we’re going to accommodate you.”
She will soon be disseminating an informational video to families about the return to campus, stressing the need for masks and parent partnership in this endeavor.
The school will not be testing students on site for COVID-19. Instead, administrators are recommending parents keep symptomatic kids home and make their choice on testing.
“My personal stance on things is all about local control and ensuring every family can make sure they can make that decision for their own family,” Dr. Alzina said.
The board of the Santa Barbara Unified District passed a resolution last week allowing the district to regularly test students for COVID-19. The resolution also mandates staff vaccination or weekly testing.
The Montecito Union School District, a single-school district near Cold Spring, is mandating masks indoors but giving the option to remove them outdoors.
Approaching COVID-19 as a single-school district is “complicated,” according to Superintendent Anthony Ranii.
“The recommendations change over time, but it is worth it to serve students at school in-person,” he told the News-Press.
He said the district reopened in September 2020 with “no major problems.” Staff had to occasionally remind students to keep masks on.
Cold Spring School opened early last school year as well, with hesitation from community members.
Now, Dr. Alzina reports that no one signed up for the school’s independent-study option this upcoming school year.
The district recently renovated its kindergarten courtyard and expanded its garden. Dr. Alzina said the district wanted to enhance the outdoor learning space.
“It’s so important we provide equity in education, and that’s ensuring they get everything they need in academics as well as in health and safety,” she said.