Some schools reopen: Los Gatos students return to classrooms

Bay Area

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — A school district in the South Bay is bringing its students back inside buildings on Monday morning.

Superintendent Paul Johnson of Los Gatos Union School District confirmed the return to school in a letter to families, who also received a letter from teachers and principals regarding assignments and supplies.

The school district had revised a return plan after Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a state plan for schools in mid-January. Now that the stay-at-home orders have been lifted throughout the state, Newsom allows any county in the Purple tier to reopen schools.

According to LGUSD’s plan for TK/Kindergarten, student group A comes to class on Monday and Tuesday for math and english classes, gets dismissed for lunch at home, and then returns for an art or music class.

On Wednesdays, all instruction will be virtual. Then, group B comes for in-person classes on Thursday and Friday, following the same lunch dismissal and return for PE and library time.

The TK/Kindergarten plan allows for students opting for virtual instruction (called ‘Zoomers’) to get math and english lessons for 2.5 hours before in-person students (called ‘Roomers’) come to school.

For 1st-5th graders, the model is similar with the addition of a remote elective after lunch-at-home, then an afternoon Zoom meeting to end the day for all students.

For middle schoolers, two groups of students will return to school on a rotating weekly basis. Group A on campus one week, group B the next week, and so on.

The school district said it will test teachers and staff twice a month for COVID-19 and will enforce mask wearing and social distancing.

“Staff who are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons shall not be assigned duties that require close contact with students or other staff,” the plan says.

In addition, staff break rooms will be off limits for eating, resting or gathering. Staff will be able to go in briefly to use appliances like coffee makers, refrigerators and microwaves. They can also go in alone to use the break room for other uses as required by law.

Meanwhile, the California Teachers Association doesn’t want schools reopening before employees get vaccinated.

The association has written a letter to Newsom saying they would like schools in Purple tier counties to remain in virtual learning for all​ grades for another 100 days, giving time for the state to come up with a more aggressive plan to vaccinate school staff.

Superintendent Johnson was recently under fire after an email he sent to teachers telling them to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine at Good Samaritan Hospital — even though teachers are not yet eligible for the vaccine under state and local orders.

Signing up for the vaccine would have required the teachers to select an option saying they are health care workers.

In response to the backlash, Johnson had said:

“I completely understand concerns about the vaccine rollout, and any characterization I may have made about Good Samaritan returning a good deed was my own personal interpretation. While I apologize for that characterization, I also will continue to advocate for school staff to be a high priority for vaccinations.”

Paul Johnson, partial statement to KRON4

On the federal level, President Biden has a goal to reopen schools within 100 days – in that plan vaccinating teachers is a big part of that.

As it stands, teachers are in the state’s next phase for vaccination, but the rollout has been slower than anticipated.

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