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Santa Barbara teens start campaign to lower COVID-19 transmission

In-person learning can only return if Santa Barbara County qualifies to move into the state’s red reopening tier.";

High school students in Santa Barbara County have not had on-campus classes in almost a year. Aiming to change that, some students started a unique competition. 

A video shares the struggles students are facing with attending schooling online due to the pandemic. Dos Pueblos High School student Casey Fineberg said even in Zoom classes, you don’t get to always see all your classmates.

“People will just have their cameras off and we don’t even get to see them the entire year, which kind of blows my mind," Fineberg said. 

Since in-person learning can only return in Santa Barbara County if the area is able to enter a less-restrictive phase according to the state's tiered system, Fineberg and her friends Kailli Falk and Nate Vance started a campaign called the Hope for Red Pledge, encouraging everyone to do their part in lowering the spread of COVID-19.

“We haven’t really seen a ton of people taking action," Vance said. "So we mixed a sense of optimism with a sense of action to create the Hope for Red Pledge.”

The students virtually reached out to other students to sign an agreement that they would all work together and adhere to the guidelines from health officials.

Falk said it grew into a competition between three large area high schools to see which school could get the most pledges. She said since there are no sporting competitions, this is much needed.

“Just that friendly competition between schools was a really good way to build school spirit and raise everyone's spirits," Falk said. "Because people got super into competing and really wanted to win.”

Overall, the students from all three high schools have gathered over 2,000 pledges, which Vance said is about 1 in every 3 students.

Falk said she doesn’t want to get too optimistic, but this gives her a little sliver of hope.

“By doing my part I know that I can help lead to maybe getting a graduation,” Falk said. "I like to think that we will have a graduation."

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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