Educators, parents and students share perspective, week COVID-19 declared pandemic


DEL NORTE COUNTY, Calif (KIEM)-This week marks a year since the CORONAVIRUS pandemic was first declared by the World Health Organization.

Redwood news talked to educators, parents, and students to get their perspective on this past year, amid the pandemic.

Around this time last year families, educators and their students were left not knowing what the future would hold.

“There was discussion about by August the school would be back to normal,” said District & County Superintendent Jeff Harris with DNUSD.

That day however, didn’t come.

“We are pushing as much as we can to open our schools to the fullest extent possible,” he said.

Students and teachers left trying to figure out how to cope in the pandemic, transitioning to full distance learning.

Del Norte Community School Principal Randy Fugate says keeping up with constant changes continues to be a challenge from the start of the pandemic.

That moment has been new, new, new, every day, it’s reinventing, it’s figuring out,” he said.

Figuring out how to keep kids on track, while adhering to state and county guidelines.

“There is just a variety of stressors, and all of those things and many more that I haven’t even mentioned,” he said. “We going to find a variety of students at a of variety of places.”

Director of Curriculum & Instruction Leslee Machado with DNUSD says technology and accessibility to online learning has posed issues for some families.

“They weren’t sure how to access their student’s education online and I think for some students and families that remains to be an issue,” she said.

Among other things, Tameka Jackson is a single parent of four girls who attend schools within the Del Norte Unified School District, and says it takes a village.

“Because there are [only] so many resources that we have in this community, that, you know, that we can do to help,” she said.

Jackson remains optimistic.

“I’m hoping moving forward we can come back to more normalcy,” she said.

“It’s not all behind the screen, it’s not all behind the keyboard, you have to have that social interaction, and where do we develop that? In school.”

This is Jackson’s eldest daughter’s senior year.

“I personally feel robbed by the whole experience,” said 17-year-old Makayla

“I only have like 14 weeks left, and it’s like wow, never went to prom,” she said.  

According to Makayla, she never went to homecoming, pep rallies or her winter ball, and will most likely not have a traditional graduation.

Maykala says she can come to terms with that, but the pandemic is starting to take a toll on her.

“Made me feel alone and kept me isolated and to myself, even with my teachers, there’s no in-person connection that I have with them, unless I had them previously,” she said.  

Elementary school student Josie remembers the start of the pandemic.

“I was in kindergarten when the coronavirus was even going,” she said.

Now in first grade. she misses what most kids, teens, and even adults, long for, a social life.

 “I miss seeing my friends at school,” she said.

Director of Grants and Community Engagement Michael Hawkins says he sees the impact the pandemic has had on his family.

 “It has a big effect on my kids, it has a big effect on me as well, we don’t’ get that chance to socialize,” he said.

David Hayes says our society has no choice but to adapt.

“I think anyone with families, this is a real challenge, you know, regardless of your resource situation,” he said.

Hayes’ son Carson enjoys the flexibility online learning offers and has this advice for those having trouble.

“Try to communicate in class instead of just staying in your comfort zone,” he said.

Something high school students Izzak and Alexsander have had no trouble doing, they are focused on the future.

“When the topic gets brought up, it’s hard,” said Izzak. “It’s easy to talk about but, then it’s [future] hard to image.”

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“If we are able to study this virus a little bit more it would be treated like a cold or a flu almost,” said Alexander. “I think it’s going to die down eventually,”

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 Redwood Coast Montessori Director Bryan Little, agrees.   

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“We are starting to see that there is a way out of this,” he said.  “To get back to something back to something more normal and have students back on campus, to be a community again.