Several South Bay school districts share plans to start school year with 'distance learning'

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Several South Bay school districts share plans to start the school year with 'distance learning'
As COVID-19 continues to force change on both the county and state levels, school districts in the South Bay are shifting and adjusting accordingly.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As COVID-19 continues to force change on both the county and state levels, school districts in the South Bay are shifting and adjusting accordingly.

Gilroy Unified School District (GUSD) is already pivoting from its early plans.

RELATED: East Bay school district prepares to resume classes by distance learning next fall

Initial plans considered bringing elementary school students back for in-person instructions, five days a week. Middle school students would've learned until a hybrid model, with two days in school and three days of distance learning. High school students would've adopted distance learning, five days a week.

According to documents shared with viewers during Tuesday's virtual GUSD Special Board Meeting: "The District's proposal was based on guidance from the Public Health Department, including scientific studies that indicate younger children are at low risk of transmitting COVID19 to other children or adults."

"It was also based on providing the best instructional program possible at all levels, experiences during the spring distance learning program and the developmental levels of students," the presentation continued.

RELATED: How should schools reopen? Expert suggests wearing face mask is safest thing to do

However, GUSD's current proposal for Fall 2020 plans for all students, preschool through 12th grade, to begin the school year in distance learning.

"We've also have had some recent cases of COVID-19 in our school community," GUSD Superintendent, Dr. Deborah Flores explained. "So, we really took a step back, reviewed all the input that we've received - in particular, the union input representing most of our staff - and we are now recommending a different plan."

Follow the Distance Learning presentation below for details on what is currently planned for the 2020-2021 school year.

According to GUSD, the district plans to provide students who need technology, with the equipment to succeed. The district announced it has 350 WiFi hotspots ready for distribution as well.

In separate meetings on Tuesday, other districts also discussed how starting with a virtual model would provide the safest measures.

"Our number one priority is the health and safety of our students- that's a higher priority than the actual academics," Los Gatos Union School District Superintendent Paul Johnson told viewers at the district's virtual Regular Board Meeting, Tuesday. "The highest priority for our staff, who are in the trenches with our students- to make sure they're all safe and protected."

RELATED: LAUSD superintendent says school year won't start with students at facilities

Superintendent Johnson says they would then monitor trends, before actively transitioning back to in-person instruction.

"It's been said that the only certainty during this time is uncertainty, and it's been very stressful for the entire community, the staff and families that we know," Johnson said. "And life as we have known, the last four months, is entirely different and schools are no exception."

Johnson explained that once the district is able to transition back to campus, the district would move into what he called, "Phase One."

Follow LGUSD's plan introductions below. (Scroll to the bottom for "Board Meeting Reopening Introduction 071420")

Similarly, the Berryessa Union School District in San Jose is also considering a "phase-in" approach.

"How we start the school year, regardless of the instructional model, does not dictate our entire school year," BUSD Superintendent Dr. Roxane Fuentes told virtual town hall viewers, Tuesday. "It is our best thinking for what we can provide at this point in time."

Dr. Fuentes continued, "Also, expressing that there is quite a bit of movement happening at the state level, at our county level, we know that there is going to continue to be more guidance over the next week- over the next two weeks. And we'll have to continue to shift."

RELATED: Teachers, parents concerned over SF and Oakland's plans to start distance learning this fall

For more information on BUSD's reopening plans, click here.

You can find Tuesday's Town Hall presentation below.

Each district is exploring plans to start the school year with full-distance learning, and all are dependent on recommendations from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

Elsewhere, New Haven Unified School District Teachers Association in Union City announced it will begin the new school-year "100% virtual."

San Leandro Unified School District also announced, "School will begin with all students in distance learning. The district will continue actively planning for a return to in-person learning, as soon as public health conditions allow."

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here