Santa Ana, Calif. (July 15, 2020) – Orange County Supervisor, Don Wagner, and Health Director, Dr. Clayton Chau, applaud the efforts of the Orange County Department of Education to bring children back to school with safety measures in place. It is critical that young people not fall further behind in their education.
At all grades, we have lost valuable and irreplaceable teaching days. We have robbed social and emotional learning and threatened our children’s mental health. At some point, these losses cannot be made up, jeopardizing the next generation in the name of saving them.
The balancing effort the Orange County Department of Education must engage in to reopen schools in a social setting is a tough one, a point made by Supervisor Wagner at the presentation to the Orange County Board of Education earlier this month. The Orange County Department of Education’s effort is made more difficult by the fact that much remains unknown about the virus, the susceptibility of children to it, and the likelihood of spreading it to family members, teachers, school staff, or other at-risk members of the community. And ultimately, it is for parents to decide whether any potential risks are sufficiently lessened by the Orange County Department of Education’s reopening guidelines.
When the Board of Supervisors unanimously put out business reopening guidelines, Supervisors Wagner and Steel wrote them to incorporate the CDC’s then-current recommendations. The Supervisors called for physical distancing and urged the use of facial coverings where distancing was unavailable.
However it is important to note that Supervisor Wagner and Dr. Chau did not write, edit, or review the “white paper” the Orange County Board of Education brought forward. Both Supervisor Wagner and Dr. Chau encouraged the Orange County Board of Education to remain guided in their plan by the medical professionals. Supervisor Wagner specifically seconded the call of panel member, Joel Kotkin, to hear both sides of the mask issue.
Supervisor Wagner and Dr. Chau believe the Orange County Board of Education should follow the same procedures in determining the best way to safely reopen schools. However, it is important to reopen safely when the epidemiological data makes sense.