East Bay school district awaits approval for in-person instruction

Bay Area

ORINDA, Calif. (KRON) – Plans are in place for an East Bay school district to transition from distance learning to a hybrid model of education — which includes in-person instruction.

Contra Costa Health Services say seven county school districts have submitted health and safety plans for resuming in-person instruction.

The Orinda Union School District is one of them.

Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Seaton says she sent the plan to health services and the county office of education in addition to the state last Thursday.

“The agencies have seven business days during which to review and approve the plan. If we do not hear anything by that seventh business day, which is this coming Friday, then we are to assume that our plan has been cleared and approved, Dr. Seaton said. 

If approved, starting next Tuesday, Seaton says T-K through sixth graders may return to campuses in a hybrid model of education — A mix of distance learning and in-person cohorts.

That also depends on the number of COVID-19 cases reported countywide.

Based on state guidelines, the adjusted case rate must fall below 25 per 100,000 residents for five consecutive days.

Right now, that number stands at around 31.

Seventh and eighth-graders are also prohibited from in-person instruction until the county moves from the purple tier to the red tier for five consecutive days.

“Our union partners have approved returning to in-person learning, as long as we stay true to adhering to the guidance from the county and state health authorities,” Seaton said. 

Dr. Seaton says that although some students have been successful academically during distance learning.

Many have struggled and that the need for in-person instruction goes beyond what’s earned on a report card.

“Both academically, and from a social-emotional perspective, it’s vastly superior to what even the very best distance learning experiences are,” Seaton said. 

A father at Del Rey School tells KRON4 that he prefers his daughter continue in distance learning but Seaton says 80-percent of the district’s families support students returning to class.

“We know that elementary schools can be a petri dish sometimes of germs and diseases, but I have never felt safer knowing all the protocols that are in place. It is a risk, but it’s also a risk for our children to be so isolated so long and not to have that interaction,” mother Krysta Lapcevic said. 

So far, health services say no school district has received approval to resume in-person instruction.

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