With the traditional school year starting next month, mid-Alameda County districts are cautiously weighing options to ensure safety for students and teachers, and many are deciding to start with online-only instruction.
But school officials stressed that plans could quickly change, depending on recommendations from state and local health authorities.
Hayward Unified School District will start with online classes and then phase in getting its approximately 20,000 students back into classrooms.
Schools on the traditional schedule will start Aug. 24 and take part in what’s being described as “full-distance learning,” meaning students will study from home and interact with instructors online or via phone, email and text messages. Its year-round schools will start Thursday, also with full-distance learning.
The Hayward district has four year-round schools: East Avenue, Eldridge, Bowman and Park elementary schools.
“As we have learned during the course of this pandemic, we need to be flexible when planning for the upcoming school year,” Superintendent Matt Wayne said in a letter to parents on Friday. “Just last week we thought we would be able to dine inside restaurants, only to learn that the Alameda County Public Health Department has delayed moving to the next reopening phase due to an increase in cases.”
Wayne said proposals are being drafted for transitioning from online learning to a hybrid model, with some students going to classrooms and others getting instruction at home until the pandemic eases. The proposals are expected to go before the school board July 22.
Alameda Unified School
Officials with the Alameda Unified School District, which has about 9,300 students, have pushed back the first day of school from Aug. 17 to Aug. 27, with the last day of school being June 17 next year rather than the previously scheduled June 9.
The calendar will not be final, however, until district trustees approve it at a special meeting Friday.
The district is offering families a choice between what it calls a “Flexible Learning Program” and a “Remote Learning Program.”
The flexible program will involve half-day, on-campus, in-person instruction, plus online self-paced learning for the other half of the school day. The remote program will be an entirely online program that students can take part in from home.
The Alameda district also is reviewing recommendations from local health authorities, including what cleaning equipment custodians should use, and assessing how long it will take to clean campuses daily and what that might mean for schedules, spokeswoman Susan Davis said.
Judith Klinger, president of the Alameda teachers’ union, said during an online meeting June 17 hosted by state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, that teachers have found working amid the pandemic a challenge.
“Teachers had, on a dime, to go home and totally reinvent the teaching profession,” Klinger said. “It was tremendously, tremendously difficult.”
San Lorenzo Unified
The San Lorenzo Unified School District plans to begin the school year with total online learning, and phase into a hybrid model in October, Superintendent Daryl Camp said in a June 24 letter to parents.
“We hope to have more firm information for you towards the end of July,” Camp said.
San Leandro Unified
On Wednesday, San Leandro school officials will present a reopening plan via ParentSquare, an online program that connects parents, teachers and administrators with schools, and on the district’s website at www.slusd.us. The plans are expected to include details on a blended model of classroom and online learning, as well as plans for full online classes if the pandemic does not ease.
“We are looking at multiple scenarios,” Thomas Morse, president of the San Leandro Teachers Association, said at last month’s meeting hosted by Bonta. “You never know when the virus is going to come back.”
Castro Valley Unified
The Castro Valley Unified School District plans to begin the school year with entirely online learning until it is safe to transition into hybrid models, according to Supervisor Parvin Ahmadi. The first day of school is Aug. 13, and classes will continue through May 28.
The district is also offering an option for families of middle and high school students to choose entire online learning this upcoming school year if that makes them feel safer.
“We are working with our bargaining teams to put in place the necessary process and procedures to ensure the safest possible return to school and the best learning opportunities for all our students,” Ahmadi said in a statement.