Outdoor classrooms? Reduced schedules? Here's what it might look like when Santa Rosa students go back to school

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- The Santa Rosa City Schools District is hammering out the details on what school will look like this fall after the coronavirus outbreak shut down schools across the Bay Area.

The plan may include outdoor classrooms, shorter schedules, and masks for everyone but it's all subject to change.

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"We are planning for whatever may come," said Santa Rosa City Schools Superintendent Dianne Kittamura.

Supt. Kitamura feels like she's preparing for battle, but that's what back to school is looking like these days. An arsenal of supplies has been ordered.

"We have hand sanitizer, one-gallon jugs for each classroom, face masks, face shields," Kittamura said.

There's also a plan for 16,000 students to return to school on August 17.

"We're splitting our student body in half," said Kittamura.

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The district's plan calls for 8,000 students to attend school two days a week, then switch places with the second group of 8,000 students distance learning from home. On the fifth day, everyone would be learning virtually.

"We think 80% of students will come back twice a week," said Santa Rosa Teachers Union President Will Lyon.

Lyon says a max of 16 students per classroom, some teaching could be done outside on playgrounds and lunch areas.

The plan comes a day after Sonoma County made the state's watch list for COVID-19 due to a spike in cases.

For that reason, many parents are uneasy about sending kids back.

"I'm not feeling it's 100% secure for them, better for them to continue online school," said parent Erika Ayala.

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"It's a rock and a hard place, kids need more than ABCs, they need socialization," said parent Billie Palmer.

The district will need more teachers and custodians to make it work but that's money that's not in the budget.

"The key is our ability to pivot, what COVID-19 will do is the uncertainty," said Kittamura.

If COVID-19 cases keep rising, the district will pivot and return to all distance learning this fall. Whatever happens, if a teacher or student feels uncomfortable about returning to the classroom they can stay home.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the reopening plan Wednesday night.

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