reopening the bay area

Some Bay Area Schools Plan to Continue Distance Learning in the Fall

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Some Bay Area school districts are planning to keep students at home in the fall with 100% distance learning programs or hybrid models, and it's not going over well with parents.

Despite surveys in which families said full-time distance learning would be their least favorite option, school districts in the East Bay, San Francisco, the South Bay and on the Peninsula are moving ahead with such plans.

The West Contra Costa Unified School District plans to keep thousands of students at home when the school year starts on Aug. 17, NBC Bay Area has learned. The district plans to phase students back into the classrooms in small groups, with safety measures in place, as the year progresses.

"It’s very important that he socialize with the kids as soon as possible," said Narwan Satanam, a grandparent of a student. "Of course, safety first, yeah."

San Jose's Alum Rock district announced that about 90% of its students will continue with distance learning while the remaining 10% will attend class in person and be prioritized based on housing, foster care and disabilities. And the East Side Union High School District in San Jose also will continue distance learning for the majority of its students.

"We just felt that we needed to lower that anxiety from our staff, students and families so they know what the plan is," ESUHSD Superintendent Chris Funk said. "It doesn't mean that we won't adjust when we need to adjust for in person, but at least people know how we're going to start the school year."

Interim guidance for reopening San Francisco schools calls for maximizing outdoor space, physical distancing and face coverings, but it’s still unclear what school will actually look like in the fall. Christie Smith reports.

San Francisco schools also appear to be looking at continued distance learning for most students in the fall, after administrators and community members told the San Francisco Chronicle it would be virtually impossible to have all the necessary preparations in place for the scheduled Aug. 17 first day of classes.

“We cannot go back until we know,” said Toby Boyd, president of the California Teacher’s Association. “No saying ‘it’s safe’ until it’s safe. There has to be measures in place in order for us to go back to school.”

The San Francisco Department of Public Health on Wednesday released interim guidance for reopening San Francisco schools. The guidance calls for maximizing outdoor space, physical distancing and face coverings, but it’s still unclear what school will actually look like in the fall.

The Berkeley Unified School District is planning for a hybrid learning plan for all K-12 students if county and local shelter guidelines are modified to allow reopening of classrooms, according to a report in Berkeleyside.

The Brentwood Union Elementary School District announced earlier this week it is planning to stick with 100% distance learning in the fall. Students in the Liberty Union High School District will be on a hybrid plan, in which every other day is a distance learning schedule, with full-time distance learning as an option.

Some parents are sounding off against the decision, saying they might have to quit their jobs or sacrifice their careers to stay home with their children. Others support the decision, saying school officials are doing their best in a highly fluid situation.

The Oakley Union Elementary School District is going with a 100% distance learning plan at the start of the school year, with an option to move to a hybrid schedule when it's deemed "safe" to do so.

On the Peninsula, the Palo Alto school board signed off on a plan to bring elementary students back to school for face-to-face learning, with middle and high school students primarily learning from home.

All the districts have acknowledged the plans will depend on what is happening with the coronavirus and county reopening plans.

President Trump tweeted his displeasure after the CDC issued guidelines that included face coverings and physical distance, pressuring the agency to come up with something less restrictive.

“Learning by computer is not as good as learning in the classroom,” Trump said. “Our schools, we want them open in the fall.”

The White House said hours later the CDC will issue new policies next week.

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