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SLO County's largest public school district goes virtual for fall

A screenshot from the Lucia Mar USD website.

In a unanimous decision by the Lucia Mar Unified School District Board of Education, more than 10,000 students within the district's 19 schools will be starting the 2020-2021 academic year virtually.

“It’s a mixed bag, we are painfully aware how detrimental to their future education this pandemic is,” said board member Chad Roberston. “Make no mistake, there is no replacement for a teacher and child in a classroom”

Robertson said although a large amount of comments he received are from parents asking to reopen in-person classrooms, he believes this is the necessary move.

“As a parent it’s devastating,” said Roberston. “But when it comes down to safety, it's about their future and their health and the health of our family and grandparents and so on.”

Working mom of two elementary-aged children in the district, Heather Ramos said she was shocked by the decision, and doesn’t think she’ll be able to help her kids get the best education on the computer at home.

“I am by no means a great qualified teacher,” said Heather Ramos. “ There could have been other options, like outdoor school.”

Ramos is now figuring out how she’ll work and help teach at the same time.

“I’m already trying to scramble, and see what I can do,” said Ramos. “I might have to bring my kids with me to work. I may have to pay someone to watch them. Either way it’s going to be a burden on my family.”

Lucia Mar teacher Dawn Meek said she understands it's going to be a tough transition for everyone.

“As a teacher, oh gosh, I want to be back with my students,” said Dawn Meek. “But I think for the safety of our kids and our community, especially with the cases increasing, I think it’s a wise decision.”

The district says it is now working with staff and preparing to provide students with laptops if needed. Administrators are also looking into options for students who may not have internet access at home.

The school year is set to begin online on August 13.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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