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

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- Hayward Unified School District students and staff returned to virtual learning Tuesday despite guidance from the state and the county.

It was quiet across the district's campuses on Tuesday with most students and staff home. The virtual learning plan will remain in place until at least Jan. 18.

"These 10 days really allow for our staff to recover and have those important days so that they can be ready to return for class next week." HUSD Public Information Officer Dionicia Ramos said.

117 HUSD staff members tested positive for COVID last week and there were total staff 365 absences. 81 classrooms did not have teachers available.

With 500 additional students testing positive in January, the board opted for this virtual learning plan last Friday against guidance from the state and county.

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"We have offered them whatever support we can to assist them with the in-person education of their students, but their board made a local decision to do something different than that." Alameda County Office of Education Director of Communications Michelle Smith McDonald said.

The district is offering a virtual learning independent study contract or an in-person option at six learning hubs in the district.

The hubs were created for parents who wanted to keep their students in-person or for families with connectivity issues.

The district said they have been working with families to ensure everyone has laptops and WiFi adapters if needed.

For safety reasons, one family we spoke with opted to go virtual despite the challenges.

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"It's difficult, really difficult, especially for me," Eden Gardens Elementary Parent Ida Parlas said. "I'm home with my two kids, so it's really hard."

Besides the student struggles, there is also the financial impact.

The county says the district is at risk of losing funding due to average daily attendance (ADA) requirements, $2.5 million potentially lost each day the campuses are closed.

Even so, one HUSD parent believes a temporary closure is best to solve the issues on campus.

"Obviously we know the impact of losing money," Schafer Park Elementary School parent Rochelle Balthazar said. "But was it effective to stay open with so little kids on campus, possibly without a teacher?"

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Questions we may not get an answer to.

The board will meet Friday to decide whether or not to extend the closure past Jan. 18.

"We are really hoping that we'll be able to get back to in-person learning at our school sites on Tuesday," Ramos said.

The district is providing meals for families that need them through Jan. 14.

The district has also partnered with mobile testing centers to offer testing at select campuses this week as well.

For more information on the virtual learning plan, visit the HUSD website here.

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