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San Jose's Alum Rock School District Prepares for New School Year

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Some schools are now just weeks away from reopening their doors after a year of distance learning, but many of them are still scrambling to find enough teachers and others are in a mad dash to make sure classrooms are safe and clean for students.

August 17 is the big day for the Alum Rock Union School District. The rules will be a little different this year and some parents and administrators say they’re eager to get started.

The custodians at Russo/McEntee Academy are going classroom to classroom, sanitizing every corner after a busy summer.

“We have an amazing team helping us disinfect because we’re just wrapping up summer school and we need to clean,” said Superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer.

Because of social distancing rules, many unused desks are piled up in one corner of the classrooms. But schools across the state are now loosening some of those social distancing guidelines, allowing more students to sit in one classroom.

At Alum Rock, the plastic sneeze guards will stay in place, and every room is equipped with an air purifier as an added safety measure.

Parent Lucina Cruz said last year was tough, serving as a teacher’s aide at home while her children were distance learning.

So she’s glad classroom instruction is back, but wonders if schools can find enough teachers by the time the first bell rings.  

Something every district appears to be struggling with.

“We do, we still have some vacancies. But we trust that we’re going to be able to find the teachers that we need,” said Bauer.

In Alum Rock, 5% of the students chose not to return to the classroom this fall -- that’s about 400 children.

The superintendent says the program they will attend won't be called virtual learning anymore, it is now known as independent study.

For the rest, their rooms are almost ready to welcome them back.

“Very excited to see the kids back,” said Bauer.

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