Coronavirus: Just before Gov. Newsom's announcement, East Bay school district drops plan for some in-person classes

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ByEric Thomas KGO logo
Saturday, July 18, 2020
East Bay school district drops hybrid reopening plan due to case surge
The superintendent of the Liberty Union High School District sent a letter to parents Friday morning, saying the plan for some in-person classes and some online learning was being dropped.

BRENTWOOD, Calif. (KGO) -- Even before Gov. Gavin Newsom released his guidelines on schools reopening, the Liberty Union High School District in Brentwood, which planned to have at least some in-person learning, abruptly changed course, citing risk and complexity.

This morning Superintendent of Schools Eric Volta sent a letter to parents. It said the plan for a hybrid mixture of some in-person classes and some online learning was being dropped.

"We said given the events of this week that we will start Aug. 10 in full distance learning mode," Volta said.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom announces which California school districts can reopen in the fall amid coronavirus crisis

The change was announced just over a week after the school board settled on the hybrid plan.

The reasons: Volta says it was taking up to two weeks to get COVID-19 test results back and contact tracing wasn't going as well as hoped, making planning nearly impossible.

"I know the state is doing everything it can to ramp up those efforts but as it increases, they just can't keep up," he said.

The capper came this week when three student athletes came down with coronavirus during preseason conditioning, forcing the district to cancel all further conditioning drills.

"The kids are safe and as of right now the strict social distancing and protocols that we have in place are proving that no other students, to my knowledge, have gotten sick," Volta said.

VIDEO: Gov. Gavin Newsom announces guidelines for California students during COVID-19

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new guidelines Friday to determine which school districts are allowed to reopen classrooms in the fall.

The Liberty Union District has 7,500 students at three high schools and about 500 more in alternative programs.

Administrators have already spent tens of thousands of dollars on personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and hand washing stations.

Now they'll have to spend even more to install WiFi and create hotspots so that both faculty and students will have adequate access to distance learning.

RELATED: Most California schools 'shouldn't reopen' if COVID-19 trends continue, state superintendent says

Volta said that's before they figure out the logistics of actually teaching.

"(Like) getting online materials. How do you lecture versus how do you have a group discussion. It really is a challenge," he said.

Getting that all figured out by August 10th may be the biggest challenge of all.

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