Protect Nevada County Students group opposes distance learning decision


The lone member of the Nevada Joint Union High School District board who opposed distance learning for the school year’s start lambasted the decision Thursday, saying some families won’t have the ability to fully participate.

Nevada Joint Union board member Pat Seeley was joined by Nevada County Board of Education Trustee Ashley Neumann at a press conference at Bear River High School. Both lamented the decision about distance learning, with Neuman arguing that children were being forced into isolation.

“We have less than 10 (cases) in South County,” Seeley said. “I don’t see the data in closing our schools. That was my argument at the board meeting, I couldn’t get the health department to give me any data that was conclusive.”

Seeley was the only board member to oppose the distance learning model in a July 22 vote.

“Studies show that students have experienced learning loss during the period of school closure in summer months,” Seeley said. “In-person instruction for students has advantages over virtual learning, particularly when virtual learning was not the planned format for instruction. We are not a virtual learning campus, we are an in-person campus. And schools may not have the resources or capability to transition fully to virtual learning.”

Seeley spoke at a rally organized by a group called Protect Nevada County Students, led by organizer Eric Christen, whose daughter announced Thursday she’d be leaving the school. Behind the speakers a group of people, most without facial coverings, gathered to show support, one holding a sign that read, “There is no pandemic.” About 30 people attended.

According to Seeley, disparities in educational outcomes can widen when schools close, as some families might not have the full capability to participate in distance learning.

“As your board representative, I will work hard to get our schools reopened after the fall break,” Seeley said. “With all of the safety measures, I don’t want teachers coming back and being afraid. I don’t want schools closed down because cases get out of hand. I have to say, there could be some cases, they talk about that, they say it could happen, it doesn’t mean we close it down.

“We work on keeping it open, we don’t just give in and say ‘Oh, no, we just can’t have school again.’”


Nevada County Board of Education Trustee Ashley Neumann had similar concerns for teachers returning to teach.

“My secondary concern is with teachers,” Neumann said. “I don’t want them to be in classrooms and get sick because our teacher population is a vulnerable population.

“The option that Newsom gave us, the CDC gave us, that everyone gave us, is that we would have options,” she added. “We could have online schooling and there could be some type of pods, in class schooling, something that we could give kids. We gave them nothing with that vote.”

Neumann elaborated on what she sees as unprecedented challenges facing children today.

“This single generation of children is unlike any other in the history of humanity. At no other time in humanity have young people struggled with one in four having an (STD). At no time in history has child sex trafficking been as high as it is right now. Right now, today, there are more child sex slaves right now in the United States than there ever were slaves in the history of humanity,” Neumann said. “What we’re doing to our children, what we’re allowing to have done to our children right now was terrible before COVID even came.

“So COVID just took it to this next level. So because I have such faith in at-risk youth I know that they are absolutely 100% going to be able to overcome this and push through this, and what they’re going to do with their really smart brains is they’re going to look back and see, what did adults do for them during this time?”

“As a county school board member, it breaks my heart,” Neumann added. “The last thing I want is for parents and students to flee the schools they love. The reason we moved here from Texas was because of these schools right here. To take everything away from kids that they love, that is cruel. To force them to be in isolation is inhumane.”

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email, or call 530-477-4230.