'It's not perfect': Hayward Unified to return to in-person classes following week of remote learning

Continuing with distance learning meant risking a potential daily funding loss of $2.5-million each day campuses stayed closed.
HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- The Hayward Unified community can expect a so-called "soft entry" as the district ends its week of distance learning due to COVID-19.

District leaders were warned against going virtual; it's an option that could've cost them millions, daily.

When students get back on the 18th, new safety measures will include shortened school days to allow students and staff to access afternoon COVID-19 testing offered by the district.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Hayward Unified School District risks $2.5M in funds daily by going virtual temporarily

Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne explained, "We're doing grab-and-go meals just to minimize the lunch interactions, we've moved staff meetings virtually. We're testing athletics, limiting spectators. Limiting students- not having student performances, postponing study trips."

The district's Board of Education met Friday evening to decide whether it would extend remote learning and continue risking a potential daily funding loss of $2.5-million each day campuses stayed closed.

"Before we reached this omicron stage of the pandemic, they were already dealing with some difficult fiscal decisions," Michelle Smith McDonald with the Alameda County Office of Education told ABC7 News, ahead of Friday's meeting. "That certainly doesn't make this easier if it comes to pass."

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There is growing concern that more Bay Area schools could return to remote learning as omicron cases rise.

Smith McDonald said nearly all other districts in the county have continued to offer in-person instruction.

"The state has given schools two pathways," she added. "In-person instruction, or the parental choice of independent study."

Independent study is meant for parents who remain reluctant to send their kids back to school for in-person learning. The option requires parents to sign a contract with the district, allowing the student to complete school work and meet district-adopted curriculum with little supervision.

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This is different from remote learning, where school campuses were shut down and teachers taught a class online. Remote learning is no longer an option for districts in California.

Friday's meeting brought mixed reaction about Tuesday's return.

A woman who identified herself as a teacher in the district told the board, "What you're talking about is not enough, it's not."

"Help us out with the kids," a father with children in the district told the board. "And online is not good for our kids."

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The board voted three to two, in favor of returning in-person.

Ahead of the official vote, Trustee Ken Rawdon told his colleagues, "It's not perfect, but right now we are also trying to do everything we can to cooperate with the state and our county."

To visit Hayward Unified's website, click here.

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