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ICOE Official Talks Efforts to Re-open Campuses

IMPERIAL COUNTY — Although details are scant and information provided broad, Imperial County Office of Education, ICOE, has put together a four-person team meant to investigate the re-opening of local schools on an open-ended timeline.

County Superintendent of Schools Todd Finnell made the announcement in a May 1 press release that he had appointed Renato Montaño, ICOE deputy superintendent of schools; Carlos R. Gonzalez, superintendent of Calexico Unified School District; Alvaro Ramirez, ICOE safety and emergency preparedness coordinator; and Elisa Ramirez, Calexico Unified assistant superintendent, to lead local efforts to re-open schools.

“As we work toward reopening our schools in the Imperial County, the safety and well-being of our students and staff are a priority,” Gonzalez stated in the press release.

Gonzalez recognized the extreme lengths teachers and students alike are going through to continue their education.

“Despite all the changes this pandemic has brought to our everyday lives and to the education of our children, it’s inspiring to witness the amazing work our local educators are providing students across the county,” he stated.

Finnell affirmed his commitment to wait until the time is right to open schools.

“Our schools play such an important role in our recovery from the crisis. While many things remain uncertain at this time, we’ll be ready to reopen schools as soon as it is safe to do so,” Finnell stated.

Ramirez, who also serves as public information officer for ICOE, spoke about the discussion taking place between members of the local committee appointed to prepare for re-opening schools.

“Rather than planning on when, it’s really planning for the different possibilities that are out there. We have a lot of uncertainties, and we want to make sure as our health conditions change, we are ready to move forward,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez recognizes there are immense hurdles ICOE’s administration will have to overcome before schools can reopen.

“We have seen local and state roadmaps to recovery. We want to make sure that we plan for A, B and C when school re-open,” he said.

ICOE is working closely with the San Diego County Office of Education in group planning on how to accommodate all the potential circumstances that could arise from the pandemic in the coming months.

“Opening or not opening depends on local health circumstances. We have no specific date or timeline,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez offered some guidance for parents, students and teachers, though.

“Earlier today (May 5), we were having a discussion at the ICOE and a colleague said, ‘We are facing a lot of uncertainty and really what we need is a patience and flexibility,’” he said.


This story is featured in the May 07, 2020 e-Edition.