Orange County

OCDE board: back to tradition

TEACHERS outside the OCDE offices on Monday (Gaston Castellanos photos/Special to The Tribune).

The Orange County Department of Education Board of Trustees voted 4-1 on Monday to move forward with traditional in-school classes.

However, the OCDE doesn’t have the power to move any public school systems in that direction. Local schools are governed by their own district governing boards, which will decide the nature of instruction for this fall.

At its meeting, the OCDE board – with trustee Beckie Gomez dissenting – voted in favor of resuming pre-coronavirus operations, without social distancing and mandatory wearing face coverings. That’s contrary to state guidelines.

AN EXCHANGE of opinions at the OCDE offices.

While the OCDE controls some aspects of public education, including instruction at juvenile hall and certain special programs, the agency has no direct control over local districts.

The board wants students at schools where state mandates are followed to be allowed to switch school districts or enroll at a charter school.

The board majority and its allies feel that masks and distancing are unnecessary, while others support such measures as vital to preserving the health of students and teachers.

The Orange County Superintendent of Schools, Al Mijares, issued a statement, saying, “The board majority’s recommendations are not binding. Locally elected school boards and superintendents will approve and implement plans specific to their districts based on the needs of their schools and communities.

“OCDE is working to support districts in that effort, and we remain 100 percent committed to following and sharing the guidance of the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency,” he said.

A crowd of demonstrators on both sides of the issue gathered outside the OCDE offices, carrying placards and speaking through megaphones. The meeting was conducted via Zoom teleconferencing.


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