'You will not be allowed to interact': East Bay teacher discourages kids from in-person learning

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- Just one day after the Pleasanton Unified School Board voted to return to in-person teaching last Thursday night, parents say some teachers used Zoom time the following morning to try to dissuade their kids from returning to the classroom.

In a recording of one Zoom session obtained by ABC7 News, a high school teacher can be heard warning her students about what "in-person" will be like: "I'll have my desk taped off in an area and I can't really leave that area."

RELATED: Pleasanton school board votes in favor of transitioning to partial in-person learning amid COVID-19

The district says the comments by a few do not reflect the larger effort to re-open in-person learning.

The unidentified teachers went on to tell her students, "If you want to go to school for social reasons, recognize that you absolutely will not have that. There's no question that you will not be allowed to interact in any fashion. You cannot work with a partner. You cannot speak with anyone in your class if they are closer than six feet away."

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On the public Facebook page, "Open Pleasanton Schools!" several parents claim at least a few other teachers made similar comments to their students - strong words that made some students think twice about going back to class at all.

"Students were changing their minds, some of them," said Janine Martin. "They were getting the information from the teachers and some of it was not rolled out as positively as I would've liked to seen it because they are changing their minds."

The concerns come just as Pleasanton Unified is asking families and students whether they prefer to stay all remote or to hybrid model with some in-person instruction.

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"It's understandable to have concerns," said district spokesman Patrick Gannon. "We have students in classrooms now and the results of simply being in the classroom setting have been remarkable."

"As discouraging as the negative words were from some teachers, parents say they're also hearing from others who are excited to welcome their kids back to the classroom.

"Last night, an amazing teacher got on the phone on Zoom with me and family, gave up his time. He's a high school teacher," said parent Marilyn Weinstein. "He believes the experience is going to be amazing and he has no plan whatsoever of simply Zooming in the classroom."

Families and students here have until Wednesday to decide whether to stay remote or return to some in-person. Principals from both Foothill and Amador Valley High Schools are holding additional meetings with parents Tuesday.

The Association of Pleasanton Teachers released a statement Wednesday which said, in part:

"Educators have been working harder than ever for that to happen as safely as possible, and we kindly ask for parents to cooperate with us and be patient. Actions like recording educators and students without their permission is not only unlawful but raises concerns with regards to respect for the law, including the in-person safety requirements. It will take all of us united to get through this, together."

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