Parents of kids attending a California school district pushed back hard against a directive imploring them to send their children to school with weather-resistant outerwear to deal with inclement weather as part of a ‘COVID-safe’ lunch environment.
“Rain is forecasted this week which will present an added challenge to our lunch routines,” Patwin Elementary School Principal Gay Bourguignon said in a message to parents. “DJUSD [Davis Joint Unified School District] students are required to eat outside at this time due to COVID restrictions. I am asking you to send your children to school with rain gear and warm jackets.”
Some parents remarked that the directive was aimed at harming children intentionally.
“@DJUSD this is completely unacceptable. Maybe the cruelty is the point,” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Due to Covid for some reason, we are forcing your children to eat outside in the rain”@DJUSD this is completely unacceptable. Maybe the cruelty is the point –@sacbee_news @sawsan24 @alldenews @sarahbeth345 pic.twitter.com/7INHTLudsU
— KC-10 Driver (@MCCCANM) October 19, 2021
“A school district in Davis is forcing students to eat lunch outside in the rain to keep them ‘safe.’ Cruelty to children has been normalized in California,” added state Rep. Kevin Kiley of California, a Republican.
A school district in Davis is forcing students to eat lunch outside in the rain to keep them "safe." Cruelty to children has been normalized in California.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) October 19, 2021
But the backlash caused the school administrator to reverse course.
Update: the district has reversed course, and will now allow children to eat inside during inclement weather. Thank you all!
— KC-10 Driver (@MCCCANM) October 19, 2021
“Some parents are very happy with our decision to have students eat outside and others are concerned,” Bourguignon noted in a follow-up email to parents, according to reports.
“Our campus is not ideal for eating outside due to the lack of a solid walkway cover. In collaboration with our District staff, we looked at all of the alternatives,” Bourguignon continued. “If during lunchtime, we have a heavy downpour of rain it will be challenging to eat under the covered walkways.”
“During a heavy downpour, we will have a staggered lunch with one grade level at a time in our MPR for 15 minutes with all 10 doors open and 2 air purifiers running. After 15 minutes, students will be dismissed to their classrooms for inside recess,” Bourguignon’s note added. “If you prefer that your child remains outside to eat please inform your teacher and we will make accommodations to support your request.”
Even though the district backed off, others continued to offer up criticism just based on the school administrator’s first instruction.
“A school at @DJUSD tells parents kids must eat lunch in the rain due to COVID. After an outcry, they will now let kids eat a 15-minute lunch indoors if there is ‘a heavy downpour’ but they must ‘eat quickly.’ We are treating our kids like animals,” the advocacy group Reopen California noted in a tweet.
A school at @DJUSD tells parents kids must eat lunch in the rain due to COVID. After an outcry, they will now let kids eat a 15-minute lunch indoors if there is ‘a heavy downpour’ but they must ‘eat quickly.’
We are treating our kids like animals.https://t.co/zw63TSyQ5w
— Reopen California Schools (@ReopenCASchools) October 20, 2021
“This exemplifies California’s response with kids during the pandemic,” Reopen California Schools founder Jonathan Zachreson noted in an interview with Fox News. “The inhumane treatment of children continues from masking all day, even outdoors, to having to sit on hot cement and now eating lunch in the rain.”
One parent of two children in the school district told Fox News on condition of anonymity that the initial directive was “surprising but not shocking given the state of COVID fear in Davis itself.”
The parent, a father, said that his kids are being forced to wear masks outdoors on school grounds despite studies showing that the rates of COVID transmission out of doors is minuscule. Also, the CDC has noted that school transmission rates for the virus are low.
“My kids stayed home yesterday for several reasons,” California mother of three Lindsay Bingham told the network on Tuesday. “We definitely support the movement to send a statement to our government officials that they are overreaching and crushing our parental rights and encroaching on the rights of educators and staff with these mandates.”
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