Madera County trying to stop private school bringing kids on campus

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Madera County Public Health Department is trying to stop a private school from bringing kids on campus for school because of the coronavirus emergency orders.

Crossroads Christian School brought kids back on campus last week.

"Well, it's another school testing the system and pushing the system to see if they can do what they want to do," said legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

Neighbors tipped us off that the kids were back and told us they're concerned about the health effects from schools reopening despite state emergency orders designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"Neighbors should be concerned because those students are going to be going home," Capozzi said. "They will have contact with their teachers when they go home, they'll have contact with parents, relatives and that may spread the virus."

Capozzi says - legally speaking - the public health danger outweighs the benefit to children of getting instruction in person.

But the state has granted dozens of waivers for smaller schools in counties with widespread transmission after seeing specific safety plans.

The school's principal hasn't returned my calls for five days, so we don't know what their safety plans are.

Crossroads registered with the state last year as a K-8 school with 86 students last year.

Public health officials reminded them last week in writing they're only allowed to conduct distance learning, even if they believe they can define themselves as a day camp or childcare.

"The Madera Department of Health considers K-12 students in a room with a teacher for the primary purpose of education to be operating as a school," they wrote.

Twenty-five miles away and in another county, what happens in this courthouse Tuesday between Fresno County and Immanuel Schools could matter for Crossroads.

"Clearly it will," Capozzi said. "Just because it's a different county - both counties are on the watch list that they are not allowed to have the in classroom training -- so I think what happens tomorrow will be an important factor to what happens in Madera."

The public health department says it expects guidance from the state for possible school waivers very soon.

Capozzi says Crossroads small class size should be a factor, but it's ongoing violation might also be a consideration.
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