Milpitas Unified to keep in-person learning despite push for '10-day district-wide quarantine'

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Saturday, January 8, 2022
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Most Milpitas Unified School District students will be back to distance learning on Monday.

MILPITAS, Calif. (KGO) -- UPDATE: Milpitas Unified will remain open for in-person learning Jan. 10-14 despite a district-wide quarantine proposal, school officials announced in a newsletter sent to families Saturday.

Officials say they are not able to offer a "district-wide quarantine" after consulting with the Santa Clara County Office of Education. Community quarantines may be declared by County Public Health.

Video and article below is from a previous report.

Come Monday, January 10, most Milpitas Unified School District students will be back to distance learning. It's a move district leaders say has to do with staffing shortages, high COVID-19 case rates and low test availability.

Students are expected to be back behind screens temporarily.

"If we can get people to stay home, that's what's needed now," MUSD principal Nichol Klein said at the district's Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

On Friday, a letter from the Office of the Superintendent went out to the Milpitas Unified community saying, "ALL MUSD SCHOOLS WILL BE PLACED ON A 10-DAY, DISTRICT-WIDE QUARANTINE."

RELATED: 81 students, 16 staff out sick with COVID across 3 Marin County schools after winter break

The letter went on to read, "During this time (January 8-17), we expect our families to not travel, not attend large gatherings, and practice Safety First risk mitigation measures in and around your homes so we can safely return to In-Person Learning on TUESDAY, JANUARY 18."

The hope is these measures will fit a 10-day timeline for students to have enough time to quarantine and get healthy at home, before returning to in-person classes.

Students will distance learn the week of the 10th.

"As an emergency procedure, I'm in support for it," MUSD parent, Tingna Xu said. "But if it's for long-term, we will need to figure out other options."

RELATED: SF Unified classes not interrupted despite 874 sick calls in 1 day from teachers, paraeducators

But late Friday night, the Santa Clara Office of Education and Office of Public Health sent ABC7 a video statement - advocating for keeping kids in schools.

"We've learned that in-person education is what they need and remote learning doesn't support their mental health, emotional health, and academic well-being nearly the way that in-person learning does. We are centering our efforts on ensuring that our kids remain in school for in-person learning," said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County public health officer.

Xu said she understands the district is in a tough spot.

According to the district's letter, 167 substitute teacher positions went unfilled. The letter explained this required the district "to cover classes with other teachers, principals, district office staff, as well as grouping classes together with one teacher."

Additionally, 107 support staff positions went unfilled this week.

However, the hope for Xu is that this remains temporary, as the changes mean two young kids and two parents will all be working from home.

"I really wish that we had we can have a win-win solution, but I know it's difficult," Xu shared.

Not speaking specifically to the action at Milpitas United, Stanford Children's Health Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Grace Lee told ABC7 News, "Every time another wave comes through, the first reaction we have probably should not be shut down."

Instead, Dr. Lee said focus should be maintaining and minimizing the disruption to both communities and kids.

RELATED: 'Cases are rising': UC Berkeley students push for remote start to spring semester amid COVID surge

"I do think that kids have borne the brunt of the pandemic, in that we have asked them to do more than I think we asked ourselves to do as adults," she continued. "And so my hope is that we can continue to support kids in a safe learning environment."

For Milpitas Unified, until at least the 18th of January, that environment will be at home.

Dr. Lee told ABC7 News, "I very much agree that from the health perspective, mental health perspective, social emotional perspective, being back in school, it has been a huge benefit to our kids who have been out for so long."

According to the district's letter, "For families without adequate Wifi or child supervision during the school day, their child can come to the physical campus, where they will be able to log on and participate in the Virtual Learning with the rest of their class."

To read Milpitas Unified's letter, click here.

ABC7 News reached out to the MUSD Superintendent's Office and the Milpitas Teachers Association for comment. However, no one was immediately available.