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The Campanile

Schools begin to reopen in Santa Clara County


Following its advancement to the orange tier of the governor’s reopening plan on March 23, PAUSD began offering the option of in-person schooling to all secondary students, and many other Bay Area schools have since followed suit.

Mountain View High School board member Fiona Walter said her district’s approach to reopening on April 19 aims to safely bring students back to campus after being in a year-long hiatus.

“MVLA is currently open in a stable group model where students anchor in one room for the day and have breaks (and) lunch on campus to see friends, get out of their own houses and start back to some normalcy after a year away from campus,” Walter said. “Each grade level has one day a week. A small portion of our teachers are voluntarily back on campus, but still teaching on Zoom.”

Walter continues by adding that the reopening plans has been going well.

“From both observations and direct reports, these groups seem to be going well,” Walter said. “Our goal was to address some of the mental health issues our students face from this year of learning in isolation. The smiles, laughs and visible relief on students’ faces is really encouraging.”

Walter said the number of students who opted to resume in-person learning met the board’s expectations.

“As was anticipated, this model didn’t work for everyone, and some students opted not to return after trying it for a day,” Walter said. “Others received positive feedback from friends, and as a result we’ve been receiving phone calls asking about another round of sign ups. Percentage-wise, attendance varies across the grade levels with a maximum of about 20% of the freshman returning and fewer of the seniors back on campus.”

Walter said the practical aspects of the reopening plan have gone well and students have been following protocol as instructed. She said having some students piloting in-person learning before a full return has helped school administration find and address unforeseen issues.

Jerry Liu, the President of the Board of Education at the Cupertino Union School District, said his district will begin offering a hybrid plan on April 5.

“The week of April 5 is a transition period with students on campus for up to two-and-a-half hours for two days a week — students are divided into A (and) B cohorts with Wednesdays being asynchronous learning days,” Liu said. “April 12 is spring break for us, and April 19 we move into the regular hybrid schedule.”

Liu said he expects 50% of students to return to campus with the numbers being different for high school, middle school and elementary schools. Like PAUSD, Cupertino has enacted safety protocols based on the CDC guidelines to keep students and staff safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

Superintendent Don Austin said PAUSD’s secondary schools reopening has been generally well-received by students and staff, which he says was the main goal. Like Walter, Austin said PAUSD officials anticipated the low attendance rate.

“I don’t get daily attendance reports, but it sounds like we are between 20-30% in-person each day,” Austin said. “That is about what I expected. I think it will grow after spring break. It’s not a competition, and we are happy that students who want to return to be around people have that option.”

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