Elementary school students return to class in Danville amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Elementary schools in Danville opened to in-person learning Wednesday now that the county has seen 25 cases or less of COVID-19 per 100,000 people for five days in a row.

"We are super excited. Everyone at the school, the staff and the teachers, have been amazing. They assured us that it is going to be safe here. He's excited to see his teacher and his friends," Dhara Shah said as she dropped off her kindergartner at Greenbrook Elementary School.

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She did have tears in her eyes, as this is his first time at school.

"He was worried he would be jumping to first grade when he goes to school. That was one of his biggest concerns. So to see and be in kindergarten, even with a mask, even with precautions - it is amazing. He is very excited," Shah said.

Getting to this day has not been easy. The San Ramon Valley Unified School District had planned for a January reopening, but then postponed that date. That angered many parents who have aggressively pushed for in-person learning. Some even launched a recall effort against school board members as they fought to go back to school.

"I am so proud of the parents in our district. I am so proud of everyone coming together and fighting for the rights of our kids. We are just so grateful this came to a resolution today," said parent Lisa Willett as she dropped off her third-graders.
"This is probably one of the most difficult spaces and places I have ever led because the science is changing, so requirements have to change with it," superintendent John Malloy said. "Emotions run deep and there are so many different views we are trying to manage. But at the end of the day, what always drives us, we are all focused on our students - parents and staff and the community. And I think that's what helped me lead because I knew that. Knowing no matter how passionate the response, that was the foundation of what people were responding to. We are looking out for our kids, we want the best for them."

He was at Greenbrook Elementary School when it opened Wednesday and said he was grateful this moment was finally here.

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"I truly believe students need to be in school, safely and effectively. I believe students all across this state should be in school and I hope we can get there for everyone soon," he said.

Malloy said about one-third of students decided to return to class. The others will continue distance learning.

The county must be in the red tier for at least five days before seventh through twelfth grades can re-open. Contra Costa County is in the purple tier.

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