Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) joined school officials and parents yesterday to tour two Orange County schools that have returned to in-person learning and are operating safely and effectively for students.
At Gisler Elementary School in Fountain Valley, Rep. Steel joined Superintendent Mark Johnson, Principal Teri Malpass, School Board President Sandra Crandall and Board Members Jeanne Galindo and Jim Cunneen for a tour of the school facilities to learn more about their hybrid learning and the safety precautions they have taken to protect students and their families. The school, which serves transitional kindergarten to 5th grade, is currently undergoing construction to make safety updates for their students and teachers. Gisler parents have the option to choose a hybrid program or all-virtual learning for their students. The school began this hybrid model of education on September 22, 2020.
“We take great pride in our schools in the Fountain Valley School District and in our ability to offer parents a choice of in-person or virtual learning. It was an honor to share our successes with Congresswoman Steel as she visited our classrooms. We are grateful to Congresswoman Steel for her high interest in education, as well as her deep understanding of the important work we all need to be focused on at the local, state and federal levels,” said Sandra Crandall, President, Board of Trustees, Fountain Valley School District.
At The Hebrew Academy in Huntington Beach, Rep. Steel joined the Head of School Rabbi Yitzchok Newman and Principal Dr. Bryn Harari to help celebrate the school’s 100 days of being open safely for their students. The school is the longest-operating Jewish Day School in Orange County. The Academy opened for in-person instruction on August 25, 2020, and has retrofitted the campus to support physical distancing, installed touchless facilities, provided individually wrapped lunches, updated staff training, and provided tents for outdoor learning. Rep. Steel was joined at the Academy by a few school parents who are also frontline workers.
“We were thrilled to host Congresswoman Steel to share with her the success that we’ve had in our first 100 days of school,” said Principal Bryn Harari. “Our students are thriving physically, emotionally, and academically as a result of our efforts and our ability to have in-person instruction. We are grateful to the Congresswoman for her support and efforts to return students throughout Orange County to school. We have been able to ensure quality instruction and the social-emotional support students need during this time, in a safe environment. As a result, our students are thriving.”
“I am so grateful to these educators and parents for providing a safe environment for Orange County’s students. Teachers, students and parents have been some of the hardest hit because of this pandemic. These kids are our future and it’s critical that they have the tools to succeed. I support opening schools for safe, in-person learning to help get our kids back on track,” said Rep. Steel.
Studies since the pandemic began have shown that stress, anxiety and students’ mental health have suffered due to forced remote learning. A recent study from NBC News and Challenge Success showed that 56% of students reported that their stress about school has increased since the start of the pandemic. 47% said the strength of their relationships with peers has decreased.
As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Steel has been supportive of opening schools and returning to in-person learning. Rep. Steel recently spoke on the House Floorand offered a motion during floor debate to immediately consider the Reopen Schools Act, which would condition the $54 billion Congress allocated to schools in December on them reopening safely for their students. The Democrats wouldn’t even consider the bill on the floor. Rep. Steel also offered an amendment last week during a House Committee on Education and Labor markup of the proposed budget for the next fiscal year and President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief that would require schools to reopen as soon as vaccines are made available to teachers. She also joined more than 60 of her colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to follow the science and safely reopen schools across the country.
This article was released by the Office of Congresswoman Michelle Steel.